D.C. puts on a magnificent celebration every fourth year for the Inauguration, but this year was vastly different both because of the pandemic and the security provisions following the invasion of the Capitol on January 6th.
We saw a few welcoming sights in the days before the total lockdown:
Three days before the Inauguration, pedestrians who went through security screening could see Pennsylvania Avenue set up for the Inaugural just before the street was completely locked down. The five flags on the front of the Capitol are put up for the Inauguration ceremony on the west front of the Capitol, and the flags on the street line the traditional parade route.
A few buildings had banners up, but many of the buildings that traditionally celebrate the Inauguration were locked behind the security perimeter.
People who wanted to take celebratory photos in iconic locations had to get there before the complete shut-down.
Almost all of the traditional storefront and street vendors of Inaugural merchandise lost out on people to sell to and places to sell from, although a few remained:
The always-imaginative Barbie Pond on Avenue Q came through with Kamalas surrounding the White House and Joe in a convertible:
Nearby the Barbie Pond, the usual themed Christmas tree on 17th Street outside Floriana Restaurant has been left up this year, festooned with many Bidens and with Kamala at the top. Harris and her husband visited the tree on January 4th.
Pillars of Light
The night before the Inauguration, 56 pillars of light went up from the Mall, representing all 50 states and U.S. territories on behalf of the people who could not attend the Inauguration in this pandemic year.
There were not many people out on the streets during the Inauguration. The area near Union Station had been declared a First Amendment protest area, and a few people showed up to protest, celebrate, or report on the Inauguration.
In the early evening of Inauguration Day, a small crowd came to Black Lives Matter Plaza to celebrate, along with news reporters from several countries.
The ominous security precautions shutting down much of D.C.
Security fencing blocked off an extremely wide perimeter surrounding the Capitol, White House, and National Mall.
Military trucks were parked everywhere, blocking off most of the downtown streets.
Helicopters were constantly flying overhead scanning the city
Most striking of all was the vast number of National Guard troops, many of them very friendly when off duty but armed and deadly serious while on duty.
Despite the horrors that caused the city to have to be so heavily guarded, the humanity of the guards shown through, especially when they were off-duty and made friends with lots of the city dogs.