- The Washington Times - Monday, January 17, 2005

Thousands of members of the military lined the presidential inauguration parade route yesterday morning from the Capitol to the White House in an elaborate dress rehearsal that included horses, marching units and stand-ins for the president and vice president.

The first few dress rehearsals, rallies and road closures began in the District, offering residents and visitors a glimpse of the kind of traffic delays they can expect in the next four days.

Officials with the Metropolitan Police Department have said 144 streets closures and no-parking zones will be implemented this week. Most of the restrictions and closures will take effect on Wednesday, but authorities could shut down some streets for rallies or protests.

Inauguration Day is Thursday.

“We’ve been working around the clock and putting on the final touches,” said Tracey Schmitt, spokeswoman for the Presidential Inauguration Committee.

“This inauguration will be a fitting tribute to the very ideals that make our country so great. People are traveling from all over the country to witness history, and we are ready for them,” she said.

Authorities closed parts of Constitution Avenue, Pennsylvania Avenue and 15th Street for the practice run. Police spokesman Junis Fletcher said the event went smoothly.

“Not much has really started yet, but there haven’t been any problems that I know of,” he said.

Security will be extremely tight this week throughout the District.

Coast Guard cutters will patrol the Potomac and Anacostia rivers, the Transportation Security Administration will use dogs to conduct sweeps of Metro cars and platforms, and Black Hawk helicopters will circle the skies above the District, according to the Department of Homeland Security.

Protesters also were getting ready yesterday. At least three groups planned rallies yesterday, with many more events scheduled through the rest of the week by pro- and anti-Bush groups.

Early rallies yesterday included a walk by members of the Christian Defense Coalition and other local ministry groups along the parade route. The groups prayed for the safety of the inauguration.

“We pray for safety regardless of political views,” said the Rev. Pat Mahoney, director of the coalition. “Certainly, everybody would be for safety.”

At Dupont Circle, plans called for Paint the Town Blue II, in which participants handed out fliers and canvassed neighborhoods and stores in what organizers called a celebration of progressive values.

And a group called the Society for Truth and Justice planned to hold a rally in front of the White House yesterday afternoon calling on President Bush to appoint only pro-life judges to the Supreme Court.

Many tourists visited the site to see the final touches being made. Most said yesterday that they haven’t had any trouble getting around the District yet, but they were sure things would be different later in the week.

“We wanted to come down and see everything while we could,” said Olen Richardson of Pensacola, Fla., who took pictures of the White House with his family yesterday.

Marcel Hull of Copperas Cove, Texas, said he didn’t mind the extra security.

“We’re in a different time,” he said. “We’re at war. I’m sorry if people are inconvenienced.”

But Tobias Wehrlie of Switzerland said he thought the inauguration should be less extravagant.

“It would be one thing if somebody new was coming in,” he said, referring to Mr. Bush’s re-election. “But all of these millions of dollars being spent for another four years — you’d never see that in Europe.”

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