Here’s How You Can Go To The Presidential Inauguration

Photo: Ralph Freso/Getty Images.
President-elect Donald Trump poses for a photo with supporter Diana Brest during a campaign rally on June 18, 2016, in Phoenix.
It's not every day that a real estate mogul and reality TV star becomes the president of the United States in real life. So, if you're interested in witnessing this historic moment, there are a couple of things you should know. First, the date: On January 20, 2017, President-elect Donald Trump will officially be sworn in as POTUS. Some of the Inauguration Day's events include a procession to the U.S. Capitol (President Barack Obama will accompany the president-elect), where Trump and Vice President-elect Mike Pence will be sworn in, the swearing-in ceremonies, the inaugural address, the inaugural luncheon, the inaugural parade (which takes place after the swearing in), and the inaugural balls. Most of these events are open to the public in some capacity, be it by scoring tickets to the swearing-in ceremony or just by standing on the sidewalk next to Pennsylvania Avenue to witness the parade. But one thing's for certain: A lot of people are going to want to be there. But with some preparation and a bit of luck, you should be fine. Ahead, we answer some of your burning questions and give you some advice on how to participate in Inauguration Day.

Do you want to secure a spot for the procession, swearing-in ceremony, or parade?

In theory, anyone can witness Trump's swearing-in ceremony and inaugural address. After all, there will be viewing stations along the National Mall. But in reality, it's probably going be jam-packed. One solution is scoring tickets to the platform area. These are free, but that doesn't mean they're easy to get. Your local representatives or senators are the ones who will be giving away tickets to a small group of constituents — either on a first come, first served basis, or through a lottery. Something to keep in mind: If you see tickets for purchase floating around, it might well be a scam. Be smart and avoid 'em. If you want to watch the presidential procession and the inaugural parade, the Presidential Inauguration Committee has a limited number of bleacher seats you can try to reserve. But if you fail to do so, you can always stand on the sidewalk next to Pennsylvania Avenue. Public entrances open early in the morning for the parade and will close as the areas get filled.

Do you want to go to an inaugural ball?

Also at the center of the inauguration events are the balls. If you want to dress up and dance the night away, there are official and unofficial options. The only difference between them is that just the official balls will be graced by the new president and vice-president. If you wish to attend one of those, you can apply for tickets through the inaugural committee, though those can get pretty expensive. As an alternative, you can also purchase tickets to the unofficial ball of your choosing directly from the host organizations. Check out some of them here.

Some important things to remember once you're in D.C.

Things will almost certainly be chaotic in the days leading up to, and on the actual day of the inauguration, so prepare, prepare, prepare! First, make sure to dress for the occasion. January is a very cold month in the capital, so warm clothes are a must. Remember also to wear comfortable shoes, especially if you're going to the swearing-in ceremony or the inaugural parade. You may be standing for long periods of time or be walking around a lot. If you managed to get a ticket to the ceremony or to one of the inaugural balls, you'll have to go through security. Don't forgot to bring a photo ID, and make sure to check the list of prohibited items in advance. You also should plan ahead for how to move around the city. We don't recommend driving because of parking limitations and road closures to make way for the crowds and the inaugural parade. Finally, remember that after such a contentious election season, it's very likely that there will be rallies and protests throughout the city before, during, and after Inauguration Day. Freedom of speech is protected by the First Amendment, so even if you don't agree with the protesters, play nice.

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