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Inauguration Bloggers

Original post made by Tyler Hanley, digital editor of Palo Alto Online, on Jan 13, 2009

Local residents who are in Washington for the inauguration: share your stories, photos and videos with your neighbors here at home by blogging under this topic.

Photos (1 per post) can be uploaded with your posting if you are a registered user on Town Square, otherwise you can e-mail photos to You can also post You Tube video links here.

Comments (17)

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Posted by Lisa Van Dusen
a resident of Community Center
on Jan 18, 2009 at 10:08 am

I am getting closer to DC from Palo Alto. I am in New York City where the pre-inaugural energy is pretty high too. Lots of "how-to" (and how not to) info in the NY Times, the Amtrak phone lines have extra long hold times. People are emailing and calling in "are you in DC yet?" Palo Alto area friends all trying to figure out how to connect in the mass of humanity in DC--seems kind of odd but kind of fun. We take the train to DC tomorrow so today we will enjoy being in New York. The last call I got, my fellow Palo Altan was heading down to the mall to pick up democratic party party tickets for tonight, the ball tickets for Tuesday and maybe stop in at the Bruce Springsteen concert this afternoon since the weather is "so nice" - 30 degrees or so. Meanwhile, the was a dusting of snow here and the temperature is colder. We are heading out to buy long underwear for our multiple hours in the elements on inauguration day.

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Posted by Paly Parent
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jan 18, 2009 at 10:33 am

My daughter was with a group from Paly who went to the last one with a group from Paly. They stood in line to go through security at the event for over 2 hours, weren't told that they couldn't take backpacks with them, and missed the whole thing. My advice to anyone going is expect security to take twice as long as you expect and don't carry anything you can't put in a pocket.

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Posted by Margot Gerould
a resident of Palo Alto High School
on Jan 19, 2009 at 10:23 am


Sunday's concert was the most amazing experience ever, with at least a million people of every color, age and orientation -- together here on the plaza, as we prepare for this historic transfer of power. We were very tightly packed but, for the most part, people were polite and patient. There were babies bundled warm in backpacks peering from over their parent's shoulders, and elderly men and women gazing up from wheelchairs at the Jumbotrons and the parade of celebrities and speakers on the huge screens.

Americans have gathered here from every corner of the country in the most diverse gathering of people I have ever seen. Black, White, Asian, and Hispanic Americans, as well as people from around the world are here together, at times crying, laughing, singing, and all just trying to take in the experience that this is "It." We are here as a country, on the brink of taking a big, but as yet unknown step toward a new horizon that will change all of our lives.

All day, I was moved by the message of the music – it really spoke to me in a new way – like a universal language and a metaphor for a universal president. In particular, I was moved by Bono's "In the Name of Love." I feel like we are here to enjoy and celebrate, but also that we are here to do a job – which is be a witness to this moment. We're not here to see it through the glass of a computer or television screen, but to be here with our bodies, and hearts and minds, to witness this moment of change that our nation and our world has been waiting for. It is the most real you can get. You see it for what it is. One doesn't get the sense that this is about breaking from Bush, but rather that it is fulfilling a movement that has been 200 years in the making.

In the course of the past three days, we've been asked to think deeply about what divides, and what unites us as Americans. As a participant with the CloseUp Progam, I'm paired up with two high school roommates from New Orleans both of whom were displaced for a month and a half in the aftermath of Katrina. In our delegation are liberal Texans who are challenging my stereotypes, and young people who are decidedly not excited to have a Democrat in the Oval Office.

At the same time, I’ve had a chance to challenge some of the stereotypes people may have of Californians. Tonight, I went out to dinner with a group, not one of which I had known until this afternoon. It is very cool to feel like a representative of my state, my community, and my generation. We're all here representing the thousands of members of our communities who are watching this at home and who are just as excited about the future as we are here.

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Posted by Jennifer Jackson
a resident of East Palo Alto
on Jan 19, 2009 at 10:26 am


Let me start by saying that my name is Jennifer Jackson and I am a longtime community advocate in East Palo Alto.

For the last 18 years I have been putting on EPA Children's Day, a free fun-filled Day -- ever since United Mother's Against Drugs took back Jack Farrel Park from the drug dealers in 1990.

I have worked for the Lucile Packard Hospital Health Van as community resource specialist and for the East Palo Alto Teen Home as case manager.

In February 2004 I was KQED Channel 9's "local hero" during Black History Month. I have received a number of awards but those are nothing compared to the joy I feel by living long enough to witness this inauguration day on Jan. 20, 2009 -- the first African American president take office.

It took the whole country to elect him president, not one race but all races. President Obama is everybody's president and we should all be proud. It says a lot about us as Americans.

I just wish I could be out there on the green when that happens instead in front of a TV. But I came to Washington anyway -- in fact I brought my ticket on Oct. 29. I had faith.

I am staying with a friend in Washington, a former East Palo Alto resident, and will have many adventures to write about soon.

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Posted by Eileen and Rick Brooks
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jan 19, 2009 at 10:31 am

We blast off this morning for DC - we'll be adding to our blog as possible. Wish us luck!

Web Link

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Posted by Emilie Doolittle
Palo Alto Weekly staff writer
on Jan 19, 2009 at 12:44 pm

Emilie Doolittle is a registered user.

More than a dozen students from Palo Alto High School have traveled to Washington D.C. for President-elect Barack Obama’s Inauguration address on Tuesday. The students are sending live reports of their experience through Twitter, at Web Link. Posts will start as early as 8:30 a.m. on West Coast time.
The Paly group does not have tickets to the Inauguration, but at the very least, they will celebrate with the crowd at the National Mall. The students were given the opportunity to spend a week in Washington D.C. through Close-Up, a program that brings students from all over the country to the nation’s capital to meet political officials.

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Posted by Jennifer Jackson
a resident of another community
on Jan 20, 2009 at 6:18 am


It's 5:15 am and I feel like a kid on Christmas eve. I can't sleep waiting for this historic day to begin. Longtime residents of Washington, D.C., said they haven't seen anything like this before.

It's Obama fever here.

The bridges are closed down to cars but you can walk across. So it's lock-down time here -- either you are in or you are out. A lot of the streets are blocked off, so it's not unusual to see people on the Metro in their ball gowns trying to get to the ball.

Stores are selling everything Obama at record speed. Things are flying off the shelves. I have even seen Obama socks. I saw some disrespectful flip-flops with a bunch of plastic Obama heads on them. I had the owner take a picture of them with my cellphone while I held them up. I was told that after Obama becomes President you cannot sell things like that. You can be fined or maybe go to jail.

People are up already at the parade grounds since last night to get a good spot to see the parade

One more tidbit before I try to get some sleep. When President-elect Obama went to the 19th Street Baptist Church, it seems that the pastor’s wife saw some friends waiting in line to get in. So she went outside to talk to them (I think she was going to get them in). But the Secret Service closed the doors and said, “NO ONE ELSE can come in.” So all those people outside couldn't get in, including the pastor’s wife.

I hope the Pastor practiced his sermon at home because his wife wouldn't be hearing it on Sunday. You won't read about that in the Washington Post.

I have other stories to tell later but so much is happening here is hard to keep up.

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Posted by Tyler Hanley
digital editor of Palo Alto Online
on Jan 20, 2009 at 9:40 am

Tyler Hanley is a registered user.

San Mateo County Chief Elections Officer Warren Slocum is blogging live from the inauguration. Web Link

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Posted by Lisa Gerould
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jan 20, 2009 at 10:37 am


There is such a heavy load on the mobile telephone system in D.C. that Margot cannot get cell service. Only text getting through, but she says it is too hard to post while they are trying to leave the mall.

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Posted by The Paly Voice
a resident of Palo Alto High School
on Jan 20, 2009 at 11:55 am

Paly students who were at the Inauguration kept Paly Voice viewers updated on what was going on live through Twitter. Check it out: Web Link.

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Posted by Lisa Van Dusen
a resident of Community Center
on Jan 20, 2009 at 3:24 pm


I posted a couple of days ago from New York City. Now we are in DC having taken the train down from New York. It was surprisingly orderly. A steady flow of people into and out of the train with the first sense of a crowdedness when we funneled out of Union Station. We ran into Tim Robbins, Susan Sarandon and their children, an NPR reporter friend of mine with her children (returning a rental car of all things). Then we ran into a couple of Palo Altans. That was all before we left Union Station.

We walked over to the Cannon Office Building to pick up our swearing in tickets and found the full array of American citizens in line. The security was fairly quick and friendly. We had a nice respite inside before heading out via the Metro to the house where we are staying in Cleveland Park. We saw lots of elegant black women in fur coats, blue jeaned youth from all over and the likes of us. Everyone was so friendly, apologizing profusely for any accidental bumping into another.

Later, the streets were full of people in ball gowns and tuxedos as we had dinner and went to a friend’s house for a lively party.

Lots of Obama swag, talk of who has tickets to what.
Our oollege friend is here volunteering. She is assigned to Section 1 which they plan to fill up and then go on to the next section. She also will be in charge of some serious cheerleading. To be ready, she is spending the night at an office near the capitol. Lots of folks seem to be doing that. Volunteer training went smoothly today. Texting was even stopped up during the big concert yesterday so tomorrow is not promising to be able to text, much less call. I have gotten a steady stream of texts tonight.

As my friend just said, “You have never seen so many happy-looking African Americans in your life. I would say I have never seen so many happy Americans either.

We get up at 5:30 a.m. to head down to the mall for the big day, ready with hand and footwarmers.

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Posted by Lisa Van Dusen
a resident of Community Center
on Jan 20, 2009 at 4:07 pm

It is the end of the daytime portion of the amazing inauguration day. I just had a cup of tea back at our gracious hostess' house after being immersed in one of the most quintessentially American experiences. We departed on foot at about 6:30 am in the dark, all bundled up and got on the Metro headed for Union Station. With each stop, the Metro swelled with more and more passengers--all friendly and cordial. Then we found our way to the yellow gate near the capitol, waited about 45 minutes for the gates to open and then went through the most efficient security I've just about ever seen -- 30 "stations" and no wait. We got to know the folks near us in line. For some reason, many were from Maine. Two went/had gone to the same college as my son. Another knew other friends and some of the people we had worked with in Colorado on the campaign. Many had been very involved in the campaign.

Once in "position" we all focused on getting to know our neighbors (more people from Maine--what are the chances of that?) and hand and foot warmer management. We had a leafless tree in front of our jumbotron and an actual view (albeit a bit distant) of the podium. The waiting time seems to float by despite the 19 degree temperature.

When the ceremonies began, it was “library quiet”. From Aretha Franklin to the parade of dignitaries to President Obama’s speech and the poem and benediction at the end, the whole thing was surreal (could this day finally be here?) and moving. There were so many kinds of people. Staff from congressional offices, campaign workers, dignified older black women in fur coats (I mean lots and lots of them). Behind us was a Chicago woman pregnant and so pleased to know she could tell her child that they had both been there at the historic moment.

After Biden was sworn in, a woman said “Phew, now if lightening strikes, we will be ok.”

One of the most striking moments for me was when we were walking back toward the Washington Monument with the pervasive air of jubilation, people climbing on sculptures and literally dancing on the ice of the reflecting pool, we looked up and saw Bush fly away in his helicopter.

The other great thing was the all the creative button makers who seemed like the ultimate example of what Obama described today as those who “take risks”, are the “doers” and “are the makers of things”. So many more details swirling in my head.

Time to get ready for the Western Ball and my second or third wind of the day.

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Posted by Jennifer Jackson
a resident of East Palo Alto
on Jan 21, 2009 at 7:42 am

Why so many tears of joy? Expressions of disbelief?

Over and over again across the country you heard black people say, "I thought, ‘Not in my lifetime I would ever see this day.’

Let me give you a little insight why. Even in sports black men were great athletes but not thought to be quarterback material because you had to think on your feet. Now we have a black man thinking for the whole country.

Not in my lifetime because African Americans were always on the outside looking in. We were told you couldn't really change things until we had a seat at the table. Now President Obama sits at the head of the table.

As I watched President Obama take the oath of office, I felt a chill go through my body, felt a joy that is unexplainable and hope for the future.

This same feeling happen again when I saw it on the 10 o'clock news. With God All things are possible! President Obama, the 44Th President of the United States of America. A black man finally been given a chance to lead and not follow. In my lifetime Thank you, Jesus.

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Posted by Danny
a resident of Crescent Park
on Jan 21, 2009 at 10:14 am

Jennifer: With GOOD PEOPLE, all things are possible. God won't swoop down from the sky and solve our problems. Belief in God is wonderful, but we have real problems in the real world and need real solutions. Barack Obama is an amazing man, but we make a mistake by painting him as some kind of messiah. He is a man. Yes, a brilliant, eloquent, thoughtful and considerate man, but a man just the same.

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Posted by Margot Gerould
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jan 22, 2009 at 8:54 am


Inauguration Day: We got up at 3:00 in the morning to catch the 4 a.m. Metro from our hotel in Virginia. The train was fairly crowded even at that hour, but nothing like what we would encounter as the morning wore on.

When we got off at L'Enfant Plaza, it was a wall of people. It took us 45 minutes just to shuffle our way from the train door to the station exit. Some people were stuck on the escalators and had to keep walking backward just to stay in one place while the crowds filed out on to the street. I started to get claustrophobic.

Eventually, we got out and walked over to the 7th Street entrance to the Mall. The crowds kept moving for a time, then everything just stopped. The entrance had been closed. We heard that the next wave of people would be let in at 7, so we waited until a few minutes before 7, but then asked park police -- who said the gate would remain closed.

From that point we started to make our way down to the 12th Street entrance. Some people who had been waiting started yelling. It was the first time I felt a little at risk, as if at any moment someone might start a riot.

We finally entered the mall around 8 a.m., after four hours in transit. Huge Jumbotron video screens played segments from the Sunday's concert until finally the live program began with music around 10:30.

While waiting we attempted to stay warm and keep ourselves entertained
by playing games, like making a human chair chain. The crowd around us was mostly African Americans, and many were D.C. locals. There was also a couple who had come half-way around the world from Australia.

As the official program started it was an amazing line up of people. It felt distant because we were so far back, but the energy of the crowd kept the moment real. Cheers would rise up as different people like Arnold Schwarzenegger and Aretha Franklin were introduced.

When Bush was introduced almost everyone in the crowd of millions booed him. I did not. I found myself torn -- feeling for him as an individual but also feeling people's pent-up frustration with how this country has suffered. People needed for him to feel that, and to let him know that we will not put up with his kind of leadership.

I was also struck by the power Senator Diane Feinstein wields. I
didn't realize until this trip that she has emerged as one of the most
influential people in the Senate. It made me feel honored as a Californian that she had such a prominent role.

As Obama began his speech, people all around me began crying. It felt very intimate, as if he was talking straight to us. Suddenly there was nothing but him, and the world -- and in that moment, the world became a whole lot smaller.

I think part of what made it feel so personal was the "getting down to business" tone of the speech. It was as if he was there to jump-start his presidency with help from all of us. I found myself cheering for his family, too. We'll be watching them grow, as the country grows, in the years ahead.

Getting off the mall and out of Washington was the hardest part of the day. The lines for the metro stretched four blocks. We'd already been on our feet for 10 hours and the wait was excruciating.

My roommates from New Orleans decided to walk the seven miles to the hotel in the cold. When we finally got on the Metro after lunch, I fell asleep on the train and almost missed my stop, finally crashing in my room around 5:30 p.m. I slept through dinner, but managed to rally for the ball that evening.

Twenty-four hours after the fact, I'd have to say I was more excited the night Obama was elected than at the actual inauguration. The anticipation, unpredictability and elation of election night, I won't forget. Still, the whole thing feels a little unreal -- it hasn't really sunk in that Obama is, in fact, our president.

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Posted by Gag
a resident of Greenmeadow
on Jan 22, 2009 at 4:53 pm

[Portion removed by Palo Alto Online staff.] It shouldn't be about his race, it should be about the job he does. He hasn't done it yet. Let's just wish him well and hope that Obama the MAN does a great job and keep the focus is on him as a President, not anything else.

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Posted by stock trader
a resident of Greenmeadow
on Jan 22, 2009 at 6:00 pm

Obama's rise to stardom is certainly fateful. I wish him good luck because he's going to need every ounce of it with the coming Depression. I hope people don't blame the depression on him, but only time will tell. I doubt he'll be able to do anything to help the economy, although he certainly can do a lot on the human rights front, on torture, and governmental transparency.

Sorry, but further commenting on this topic has been closed.

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