Thursday, January 20, 2005

Tens of thousands of well-wishers from around the country braved Washington’s winter chill to bask in pomp and circumstance as they helped celebrate President Bush’s second inauguration — the country’s 55th ceremony to install a commander in chief.

“It was amazing,” said Stephanie Steward, 21, a University of Pennsylvania senior who worked on the Bush-Cheney re-election campaign. “Part of it was the personal investment. Standing there knowing I helped him get there, while in front of the Capitol, was amazing.”

Calvin Darnell, 48, of Richmond, brought his girlfriend and came because he is dying.

“I’ve been fighting cancer for six months, and I wanted to see one before I went,” he said. “I like his moral values, and I like the way he leads the country.”

More than 800,000 people were expected to attend the president’s swearing-in at the U.S. Capitol and parade up Pennsylvania Avenue to the White House amid a formidable security force. But not all of those along the parade route were there to cheer on Mr. Bush and his second administration.

Thousands of protesters supporting mostly anti-war causes lined the street and filled an area designated for dissenters, greeting the president with catcalls and signs. Small uprisings were quickly quelled by an unprecedented assembly of nearly 7,000 law-enforcement officers from local, state and federal agencies. Police said at least 10 persons — mostly protesters — were arrested during the inaugural ceremonies.

“I don’t like [Mr. Bush], and I don’t like how he said he had a mandate,” said Marion Marshall, 36, a bus driver from Leesburg, Va., who participated with hundreds of others in the Turn Your Back on Bush protest. “It’s my way of saying, ‘I’m not part of your mandate.’”

It was the first inauguration since the September 11 terrorist attacks, and Washington was enveloped in a security blanket of thousands of police and miles of metal barricades.

Snipers lined rooftops, while bomb-sniffing dogs toiled down below. Stern-faced soldiers in camouflage stood outside a tent at a checkpoint where all spectators were patted down. A German shepherd sniffed at cameras and bags.

Many of those who attended the day’s events became upset with the long lines caused by the unprecedented security measures. Event organizers also overbooked tickets for the green-ticket seating area near the Capitol, so many of the green-ticket holders weren’t able to get in to see the inauguration ceremony.

“It’s a disaster. The crowd control is horrendous,” said Tom, 53, of Fort Lauderdale, Fla., who did not want to give his last name. He said he and his wife missed the president’s speech because they waited in line for two hours.

“It should be more of a celebration of America and freedom, not where everything is focused on security,” he said.

Ticket holders Cindy and Steve Allred of Charleston, W.Va., also missed Mr. Bush’s inaugural speech. “It’s a little disappointing,” Mrs. Allred said.

Rodger and Susan England of Florida said the disruptions kept them from hearing Mr. Bush’s speech, but they said they kept their spirits up and enjoyed the parade.

“There’s not anything we don’t like about George,” said Mrs. England, 49.

Standing outside the Capitol shortly before the ceremony began, Ken Kingston of Bellbrook, Ohio, was so thrilled about being at his first inaugural that he pulled out his cell phone and called a friend back home.

“I just called to gloat that I was here,” he said, laughing.

Mr. Kingston and his wife, Kathy, wanted to attend the ceremony to celebrate Mr. Bush’s re-election, a victory made sweeter by the fact that their home state put the president over the top in the electoral vote count.

“I like George W. Bush,” said Mr. Kingston, a special-education teacher. “… He’s just a down-to-earth guy. I think he is a good president.”

Denmark native Lise Sonnen, who came to the United States 20 years ago and later became an American citizen, said being at the inaugural was particularly touching for her.

“This means more to me than most people, I think,” said Miss Sonnen, who owns a car dealership near San Francisco. “I’m almost crying just thinking about it.”

As a European, she said she understands better than most people why it’s important for the United States to stand up for freedom. Her background gives her a greater appreciation for the president’s decision to go to war in Iraq, she said.

“If America had not been in Europe during World War II, I would not be an American,” she said. “War is awful, but sometimes very necessary.”

By midafternoon, Pennsylvania Avenue turned into a sea of red, white and blue, as spectators waited to catch a glimpse of the president and the first lady as the presidential motorcade drove by.

From the Capitol, Mr. Bush rode in an armored limousine, behind police on motorcycles in a V formation, to lead the inaugural parade down Pennsylvania Avenue to the White House. The license plate read: USA 1.

When they got closer to the White House, the president and first lady Laura Bush got out of the car to walk the last two blocks before watching the parade festivities from an enclosed reviewing stand with bulletproof glass.

The parade had 14 giant floats, more than 70 marching bands and marching units, and thousands of dignitaries and representatives from every state. The military estimated about 10,000 participants in the parade.

Bands from as far away as Alaska and a float of the Declaration of Independence traversed the 1.7-mile parade route, as did Sens. Max Baucus, Montana Democrat, and Conrad Burns, Montana Republican, who were on horseback.

Jean Jarosz of Arcadia, Calif., cheered on the Arcadia High School Apache Marching Band and Color Guard, which marched in the parade. The band had 317 members outfitted in bright red uniforms and about 80 parents in the bleachers.

“They are the best kids,” said Miss Jarosz, whose son Christopher plays the trumpet.

Linda Gilkerson of Nevada showed her support for the Douglas High School Fighting Tiger Band from Minden, Nev. “This is so awesome,” said Miss Gilkerson, whose sons Jonathan and Matthew practiced for the parade. “It’s emotional. You look at them, and then you look down the street and see the Capitol.”

Amsale Bumbaugh, a Woodbridge, Va. resident who is originally from Ethiopia, took her 2-year-old son Kalab to see the parade. “It’s very exciting,” she said. “In whatever situation everyone has to support the president because he is the leader of the country.”

Steve Colletti, a New Jersey native who is now an Air Force officer stationed at Fort Belvoir, Va., brought his 9-year-old son Stephen to the parade. Stephen said he supports Mr. Bush. “He’s cool and … he supports the troops,” he said.

Hundreds of thousands of people heeded the advice to use mass transit yesterday.

As of 5 p.m., about 441,000 people passed through the fare gates, said Lisa Farbstein, a spokeswoman for Metro. Mr. Bush’s inauguration four years ago, which was on a Saturday, had drawn about 433,000 by that time.

• This article is based in part on wire service reports.

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