Published - Nov 13 2008 09:35PM EST | AP
By BRETT ZONGKER - Associated Press Writer
President-elect Barack Obama's inauguration is expected to draw 1million-plus to the capital, and already some lawmakers have stoppedtaking ticket requests and hotels have booked up.
Some people arebartering on Craigslist for places to stay for the Jan. 20 ceremonywhen the Illinois senator takes the oath of office. They are offeringcash or even help with dishes for residents willing to open up theirhomes.
The National Park Service, which is planning for aninaugural crowd of at least 1 million, will clear more viewing spacealong the Pennsylvania Avenue parade route. Jumbo TV screens will linethe National Mall so people can watch the inauguration and parade, parkservice spokesman David Barna said Thursday.
The District of Columbia's delegate, Eleanor Holmes Norton, isurging planners to use arenas and stadiums to help with overflow crowdswanting to view the ceremonies on big-screen TVs. She is also urgingchurches to hold viewing parties.
"You can't judge by pastinaugurations. It's going to break all the records," Norton said."They're going to come with or without tickets. ... It's each man andwoman for himself."
The city's police chief, Cathy Lanier, saidorganizers brought in an additional 3,000 officers from forces aroundthe country to help with the last inauguration. This time, the requestprobably will be for about 4,000 officers.
Because of a lawsuit,people should have more standing room along the crowded parade route.War protesters sued after President George W. Bush's last inauguration,forcing the government to open up more free public viewing spacebetween the Capitol and White House.
U.S. District Judge PaulFriedman ruled in March that the park service violated its own rules bygiving preferential treatment in ticketing for bleacher seats along theparade route for supporters of the government over its critics.Friedman wrote the inauguration "is not a private event."
Newrules to be issued Monday will lower the number of ticketed bleacherseats along the parade route from 20,000 seats to 8,700, leaving muchmore of the route open to people without tickets, Barna said.
Seattickets had sold for between $15 and $150 in 2005 to help pay for theinaugural parade. Details for the 2009 parade tickets have not been setbecause Obama's Presidential Inaugural Committee, which organizes theparade, is being formed.
There will also be designated "free speech" areas for protesters along the parade route, Barna said.
Theinauguration has been designated a National Special Security Event,giving the U.S. Secret Service the lead in coordinating all lawenforcement agencies to secure the event. There are 58 federal, stateand local law enforcement agencies working together.
The largestcrowd ever recorded on the National Mall was for President Lyndon B.Johnson's 1965 inauguration. At the time, the park service estimated1.2 million people descended on the area. In 1981, President RonaldReagan's inauguration drew about 500,000 people, and President BillClinton's 1993 inauguration drew about 800,000 people, according topark service estimates.
Of course, the crowds can always thin out. Ronald Reagan's secondswearing-in ceremony had to be moved indoors, and the parade wascanceled when the temperature dropped below 10 degrees (with a windchill at 10 degrees to 20 degrees below zero.) John F. Kennedy'sinauguration in 1961 came with a blanket of snow; still, 1 millionpeople turned out.
Congressional offices are reporting tens ofthousands of requests for the 240,000 free tickets for the inaugurationceremony. As of Thursday, the office of Sen. Jim Webb, D-Va., hadreceived 26,000 requests. Webb sent a letter Thursday to Sen. DianneFeinstein, who heads the Joint Congressional Inaugural Committee,requesting that Virginia's proximity to Washington be considered in itsallotment.
EBay Inc., the parent company of listing and salessites eBay, StubHub and Kijiji, said it will not allow tickets to theinauguration to be sold on its Web sites. The company made the decisionafter meeting with committee representatives, eBay spokeswoman NicholaSharpe told The Associated Press.
The inauguration will come atthe end of a four-day holiday for federal workers, following the MartinLuther King Jr. holiday on Jan. 19. Many area schools and someuniversities have canceled classes or are considering it.
AssociatedPress writers Kamala Lane in Washington, Joe Mandak in Pittsburgh andSteve Szkotak in Richmond, Va., and news researcher Judith Ausuebelcontributed to this report.