“Everybody’s being pretty patient. It’s more organized,” said Michael Moss, 62, of Louisville, Ky., comparing the lines with what he experienced in 2009. Mr. Moss and his wife were buying $5 hand warmers from a vendor near the checkpoint at First and D streets Northwest.
Frances Lippette, 70, of Raleigh, N.C., was decked out in Obama campaign buttons.
“There’s not as many people, but it’s still just as exciting for me,” she said.
With smaller crowds than in 2009, many spectators were still left outside checkpoints with the ceremony well under way.
By 11:30 a.m., officials announced all entry points to the Mall had been closed and advised visitors to go to an overflow area at the Washington Monument.
At a checkpoint at First and D streets Northwest, lines still stretched a full city block to get into the parade route by the time Mr. Obama was sworn in before noon, with people needing to be screened after that. Cups, bottles and Thermoses were piled high where security personnel confiscated liquids, and lawn chairs and umbrellas sat around overflowing trash cans.
After Mr. Obama took the oath and festivities concluded at the Capitol, the celebration moved to the streets where the president rode in a motorcade from the Capitol to the White House.
Excited spectators lined the streets, cheering and waving in a scene that captured Mr. Obama’s dual status as chief executive and celebrity to his most loyal supporters.
The cheers only intensified when he and first lady Michelle Obama got out of their limousine to walk a portion of the parade route along Pennsylvania Avenue and wave to spectators.
“Unbelievable,” said LaJoye Trott, 51, of Atlanta, who jumped up and down as the president walked by. “You can’t believe the president of the United States gets out of the limo right in front of you and starts to wave like a regular guy — and really he’s not.”
The party continued long after the Obamas arrived home at 1600 Pennsylvania Ave., as marching bands paraded along the route to cap a day many visitors said they won’t forget.
Pamela Frazier, 62, of Chicago waited two hours to get into the parade route. She brought four of her grandchildren, who were between the ages of 12 and 16 — three of whom had accompanied her to the inauguration in 2009.
“I want my grandkids to see this again and be a part of history,” she said.