President-Elect Arrives in DC and the Bubbling Craziness in Town

I work in downtown DC, about four blocks from the White House.   With President-elect Obama coming into town to meet with President Bush, I decided to go down and be a part of the arrival. As I started my trek down to the White House and it occurred to me that I didn’t know where Obama would arrive.  He could arrive on the South Lawn, typically where the Helicopter lands for the President, as well as an entrance for a motorcade.  The other potential was for him to arrive on the North side on Pennsylvania Avenue, where most of the motorcades come in when they arrive at the White House.

I figured, since he wasn’t going to arrive by ‘copter, I’d try the north side.  Obama’s meeting with Bush was set for 2:20, and figured if I got there by 1:45 I’d have plenty of time to watch him arrive.  When I got to the North Gate, there was a crowd starting to form.  Part of me knew right away this was probably the wrong side since they typically back people off the fence when a motorcade arrives.   But, since there were so many people there and a lot of security, I figured they were just letting folks get a little closer.

It’s amazing, six days out from the election and the electricity is still going strong.  Everyone was abuzz about the arrival of President-elect Obama.  There were dozens of news reporters milling about and talking to the crowd.  Right inside the gate, along the driveway, CNN and all the other crews had their cameras and journalists setup.  This was for a short meeting!  I stood next to a British woman who was talking to some folks from Maine.  The British woman was staying in Virginia with some relatives and excused herself for the chance to catch a glimpse of the President.  The guys from Maine made a detour to be in DC to happen upon this scene.  The Brit was talking about how the UK was awake early in the morning watching the returns.  Everyone seemed to be as excited over there, as they were here.  She claims the media was 100% behind Obama.  If there was any McCain support, it was non-existent.  At the White House ,there were a lot of other folks there – business people, families, and a lot of tourists.  No one knew what to expect, but they all hoped they could be a part of history.

Right around 2:00pm the Secret Service arrived on the roof of the White House, as they do when things are happening.  No sign of the President-elect.  A couple of minutes later the roar of sirens could be heard in the distance.  Quickly they subsided.  In DC, it’s typical to here the sirens come and go and sound far away, so I didn’t pay attention to them.  Shortly thereafter, a man who was talking to his wife on the phone and she said that the Obama had arrived on the South Lawn (rats!).  I checked my trusty PDA and, sure enough, CNN was reporting that Obama had arrived.

I quickly took off and walked to the other side of the White House.  The Secret Service didn’t let you get close enough to even see the Rose Garden, as you typically can see from the south side.  Bystanders and reporters confirmed that a motorcade had passed, but no one was sure if Obama was in the motorcade.  The Secret Service did a great job of confusing reporters and bystanders a like.

With that, slightly disappointed, I headed back to the office.

If anyone is wondering what DC is like right now – it’s getting slightly crazy.  There are peddlers selling newspapers from the day after the election from the standard price ($1.50) all the way up to $50 (not joking, I had one guy ask me to pay that much).  A lot of the street corners have stands selling Obama hats, t-shirts, posters, towels, sweat shirts, jackets, stickers, and anything else you can imagine.  I presume it’s only going to pick-up as the Inauguration gets closer.  I cannot imagine for one second that McCain’s arrival would have created the same buzz and gathering of people.  Nor would it have resulted in the sales of merchandise, as Obama’s election has resulted.

Inauguration tickets (keep in mind they are free) are selling upwards of $40K according to Rachael Maddow.  There is definitely a little more energy in the city right now – you can really feel it.  This truly is an extraordinary time. 

Here are some low quality pictures from my PDA phone, while waiting for Obama


Media on top of the hotel across from the White House

Media on top of the hotel across from the White House

Secret Service on the Roof of the White House waiting for Obama's arrival

Secret Service on the Roof of the White House waiting for Obama


Media inside the North Gate

Media inside the North Gate


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