Monday, January 19, 2009
The Presidential Inauguration
Barack Obama will swear his presidential oath of office on the bible Abraham Lincoln used.
He will rest his left hand on the tome, which was borrowed from the Library of Congress, to recite his 35-word oath.
According to the Presidential Inaugural Committee, the 44th US president was “deeply honoured” to be given access to the Lincoln Bible, which has not been used for any presidential inauguration since 1861 when his illustrious predecessor, the 16th president, was sworn in.
Emmett Beliveau, of the PIC, said: “The president-elect is committed to holding an inauguration that celebrates America’s unity, and the use of this historic bible will provide a powerful connection to our common past and common heritage.”
After the swearing in watched by millions, Obama will enjoy a relatively secluded lunch with around 200 congressional leaders, Supreme Court justices and members of his incoming cabinet.
Once again, the 44th US president has opted to evoke the spirit of his political idol Abraham Lincoln, serving the seafood, game and root vegetables he liked best on replicas of his White House china.
Guests will begin their meal with a seafood stew of scallops, prawns and lobster with a puff pastry top, washed down with a 2007 Sauvignon Blanc from Duckhorn Vineyards in California’s Napa Valley.
Following on will be a brace of American birds: duck breast with sour cherry chutney and herb roasted pheasant with wild rice stuffing accompanied by Molasses-whipped sweet potatoes and winter vegetables. Another Californian wine, a 2005 Goldeneye Pinot Noir from the Anderson Valley, will be served alongside.
The desert will be cinnamon apple sponge cake and sweet cream glace, during which guests will be invited to toast their new leader with some a Korbel Natural “Special Inauguration Curvee” California Champagne, 18 magnum cases of which have been dispatched to the White House for the occasion.
Around two million people are expected to brave the cold to watch the 44th President of the United States and his inaugural parade.
Most spectators will be forced to stand throughout – tickets for the 5,000 seats costing £17 on the 1.7 mile route went on sale at 1pm on Friday and sold out within a matter of minutes.
Among the estimated 13,000 people and 90 groups taking part in the parade down Pennsylvania Avenue are ceremonial military regiments, citizens’ groups, marching bands and floats.
Children from Obama’s Punahou High School left Hawaii, where the president grew up, arrived last week in a bid to acclimatise to the cold before they perform.
Obama and his family will ride along the parade route in a new armored Cadillac that has already been nicknamed “The Beast”.
People attending the inauguration have been asked to limit the use of mobile phones amid fears a surge in calls, texts and photo messages will overwhelm the networks.
The move comes as carriers are spending millions to temporarily upgrade their networks in Washington in anticipation of a rise in demand.
The companies believe thousands of people at the inauguration will want to share the experience with friends and family at home, but have asked their customers to delay using their phones.
Joe Farren, spokesman for the Cellular Telecommunications and Internet Association, said: “If some of these estimates come true, people should anticipate delays with regards to sending text messages or making phone calls or getting onto the internet.
“We can only bend the laws of physics so much.”
Virtually every entertainer in American has been pressed into service for a series of balls to celebrate the inauguration.
Barack Obama and his wife will attend ten official events tonight, finishing at 3am, including the Neighbourhood Ball which is being held for Washington residents.
Another 14 unofficial balls also being staged including the Africa on the Potomac ball, the Inaugural Purple ball and the Human Rights Campaign’s Equality ball.
Nicole Gianturco, of Event Emissary, the company organising the Blue Diamond Ball and the Green Inaugural Ball, said this year’s focus was less on glitz and more on good causes.
“These balls are incredibly expensive and people are saying, 'Let’s scale back here and there because we want to have a platform, we want our message to go out, to be on the new administration’s first 100 days’ agenda,” she said.
American cities have seen a rush on cosmetic procedures such as Botox and lip plumping injections as partygoers get ready for the inaugural parties.
Beauty salons and cosmetic dermatologists in Washington DC and other major cities have witnessed a surge in demand for “quick fixes” such as wrinkle-smoothing injections or microdermabrasion ahead of the balls.
Cosmetic dermatologist Tina Alster said: “We have been absolutely swamped since the election with people desiring rejuvenation procedures for the forthcoming inauguration.”
Hema Sundaram, a cosmetic and laser surgeon who runs two offices in the Washington area, added: “My normal load for cosmetic procedures has doubled, except for hyaluronic acid fillers – Perlane and Restylane – which have almost tripled.”
The pair told the paper their clients included Washington socialites and political professionals as well as lobbyists and lawyers.
The pilot who crash landed his plane in New York’s Hudson River has been invited to attend the inauguration.
Captain Chesley B. ”Sully” Sullenberger and his family have been invited to Washington along with five crew members from Flight 1549.
The captain’s wife, Lorraine Sullenberger, and daughters have still not seen him since he was hailed a miracle by officials and aviation experts.
Mrs Sullenberger’s wife said they were excited about the invitation. She said: “Our daughters would love to go see the Jonas Brothers. I would love to go. It’s in the works, I believe.”
No presidential inauguration would be complete without a plethora of souvenirs created to honour the new president and his family.
Shops have sprung up all over the capital offering everything from badges, flags, T-shirts and hats to iPod cases, Obama action figures, playing cards, thongs and even condoms.
Amazon set up a special website, Inauguration Day 2009, offering traditional souvenirs along with widescreen televisions and digital recorders for those watching at home, and Obama Blend Kenyan coffee and a Patriotic Party Kit with US flag paper plates, cups and napkins to get them in the spirit.
Those attending the event in Washington were offered Washington travel guides, fur-lined hats and cameras, while those wanting to get into their new president’s mind were offered some of his favourite books, including an Abraham Lincoln biography.
Tourists in Kenya are being lured away from the country’s famous game parks and white-sand beaches by a new attraction – the Obama Safari.
Tour firms are already offering tailored safaris to Kenya’s little-visited west, and especially to the village of Kogelo where the president-elect’s step-grandmother Sarah Obama still lives and where his father, also called Barack, is buried.
Itineraries include a trip to Mama Sarah’s modest homestead, although curious tourists are kept at bay by a new 6ft fence installed just before last year’s election.
Visitors can see the Senator Barack Obama secondary school, and walk through the market where the president wrote of haggling over maize prices with cheerful traders when he last visited his family.
“Explore the humble village and its primary school, health centre and secondary school named after the president elect,” boasts one tour operator in publicity for its ’Seven night Obama Package’, costing £500.