Every four years, public officials meet the challenge to organize the largest political event in the world, the Presidential Inauguration.
Setting the Inauguration Stage. Literally.
Politicians, celebrities, and millions of people challenge the bitter cold and rain to be a part of history in the making. It displays American pride, unity, and sets precedence to the world. Though we can get lost in all the pageantry of the day, most people don’t consider the extensive training, organization, and teamwork public employees must have in order to make this complex event look seamless.
So it seems only fair to spotlight some of the many unique inauguration duties our public employees endure.
Permitting Big Screens
Amending ordinances, issuing request-for-proposals, engineering adequate power and broadcasting utilities are just some of the tasks necessary to provide for a jumbotron. In grand scale, the District of Columbia permitted not one but eighteen jumbotrons, two-stories high by three stories wide strategically setup for spectators at the 2017 inauguration.
Working with law enforcement officers to monitor marijuana community groups versus drug activity at this family-friendly event can be daunting. Due to Initiative 71 which makes it legal to possess, grow, or give away 2 ounces or less of marijuana in D.C., many visitors are surprised to witness the thousands of marijuana joints given away legally on Inauguration Day.
Zoning Temporary Business Districts
DC street vendors get first preference for over 700 prime spots downtown and just south of the Mall, up to 1,000 additional vending locations in areas likely to have large crowds including RFK Stadium, where thousands of charter buses are expected to park. The top 100 sites are placed into a lottery system in which anyone can sell merchandise, food, or both.
If you build it they must come! Overseeing the construction of a glass-enclosed stand with carpet, heat, and flat-screen televisions for about 2,000 support staff, elected officials, and constituents must be erected and removed all within the same day.
Roads and Bridge Closures
Seems like a no-brainer that roads and bridges would be closed, but guess how many? Well just for the inauguration alone, between red zones and green zones, over 150 streets and bridges are closed for as much as 72 hours before and after the event.
Moving pedestrian traffic, mass transit, and security vehicles is even more complex when you consider the multiple ongoing events that occur throughout the rest of the day in Washington.
In 2009, with over 2 million people in attendance, over one hundred tons of trash was collected by approximately 300 city and federal sanitation workers. Giant septic trucks suctioned waste inside the 7,000 portable toilets used during the inaugural festivities.
With roughly 28,000 law enforcement officers, the National Guard, and military on hand as a reminder that a team of professionals highly-trained in public administration are required to not only secure but make this event a success. As we go back to our daily lives, the daunting task of planning for the next inauguration starts immediately.