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Some Notes on My Inaugural Experience Today:

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Mayberry Machiavelli Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Jan-21-09 12:40 AM
Original message
Some Notes on My Inaugural Experience Today:
From a non-ticket having mofo riding the Metro down from suburban Maryland and back.

Even though it was a brutal beating, it was a great experience for me to be a part of. The biggest problem was the time and difficulty to navigate the crowd chokepoints to get onto the mall, and then back onto Metro afterwards, and the lack of information dissemination (more on this in a bit).

Metro itself was fine for me. The hard part was waiting to get into the station. Once there, getting onto trains was no problem. They were crowded but everyone was good about not overcrowding that I saw, and I didn't experience any train failures or getting stuck on a track.

I wound up with the million or so yahoos on the mall, just in front of the big group surrounding the Washington Monument, watching the Jumbotron there. It was a good spot. Only beef was that the audio and video were out of sync on the Jumbotron and made it a bit annoying to watch. They showed the weekend concert while we were waiting, which was nice since I didn't make it to that.

What I thought was missing were perhaps having signs on the second story of some of the buildings directing the way to Metro stations, and perhaps some L.E.D. type signs to notify of Metro closures, or bullhorn announcements. Even volunteers holding up signs with this information high up on sticks would help. Since it could take half an hour or more to go less than a block to get to a Metro station, it would be nice if a sign would tell you it was out of service, or someone with a megaphone announced this instead of finding out right at the station by word of mouth from others in the crowd after 40 minutes of struggle, and wondering whether to trust the information. It really would make a huge difference to find this out 100 or 200 feet earlier. Especially given that cell phone service was very poor through most of the mall during the day, likely due to grid overload. I was subscribed to the Washington Post's fine service giving email and text alerts about Metro developments, but couldn't get these much of the time.

There were plenty of volunteers there I think, just no way of getting information about whether the subway stop you were headed towards was still in operation etc. Give some of those volunteers tall signs to hold up or megaphones.

I can't stress enough how important the positive vibe of the crowd was in avoiding ugliness from crowding. Whenever some of the crowd pressing was starting to get a bit out of control, people would say to stop pushing, and everyone generally would. I'm convinced it's mostly because it was an enthusiastic and positive crowd there with shared purpose and good will, and that this helped avoid any crushing/trampling type deaths (at least I didn't hear of any).

After Barack was sworn in, a random lady in the crowd behind me whom I'd exchanged a few pleasantries with during the day gave me a big hug and said "We did it! We did it!" If someone had snapped a pic it would be my personal V-J day iconic photo. A great experience and I'm glad I decided to go.

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firedupdem Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Jan-21-09 12:50 AM
Response to Original message
1. Thank You for sharing your experience....
I think they were truly overwhelmed. They should have known after Grant Park that folks were coming. I think they just couldn't handle the crowd. I'm glad you still made it to the mall. You were still a big part of history today!

:toast:
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Mayberry Machiavelli Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Jan-21-09 10:04 AM
Response to Reply #1
9. Actually I think they had good resources.
My issue was more about method and strategy.

Disseminating information, about a station closing or where everyone needs to go and why, helps keep people calm and orderly. Especially when peole are packed in and can hardly move or breathe, panic is never far away.

I think that the crowd was so well disposed and upbeat was critical in preventing panic related incidents. I think that prominent signs and audio announcements would do more to insure order and safety in the future.
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snowbear Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Jan-21-09 12:53 AM
Response to Original message
2. Did you get us anything? Did you get us anything??
.
.



.
.
.
.



(I jokes.. Thank you for your great report!!!
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lonestarnot Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Jan-21-09 12:53 AM
Response to Original message
3. Thanks for sharing!
I didn't get to go, so I appreciate your story!
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sandnsea Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Jan-21-09 12:59 AM
Response to Original message
4. Station closings were on the web site
Did they shut some others down besides those?

I'm amazed you got around at all, but glad you had a good time.

It looked to me like those wanting to watch the parade would have been most disappointed, or did people expect it to start when it did.
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Mayberry Machiavelli Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Jan-21-09 01:03 AM
Response to Reply #4
5. Things changed a lot during the day. For instance, a woman fell onto the tracks at a Red line
station (initially reported as she was hit by train but she's okay). This resulted in that station being closed for a time and severe Red line delays. I actually got the text message about that when it happened.
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sandnsea Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Jan-21-09 01:11 AM
Response to Reply #5
6. I see
How scary for that poor woman.

That has to have been a problem on trains before, I wonder why they don't have a plan in place for all cities.
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malletgirl02 Donating Member (938 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Jan-22-09 07:35 PM
Response to Reply #5
11. Tuesday
The yellow line was still stopped at Gallery place. My family and I had to get off there, because La L'Enfant. Plaza was closed, so we got off and went on the yellow line yesterday. I found out about the incident on the electronic message board on the Reagan National stop. I felt so really bad for the person. That evening, I found out that the person was ok, so I felt a little better. I'm really glad that she is ok.
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truedelphi Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Jan-21-09 03:11 AM
Response to Original message
7. Thank you for the personal report.
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formercia Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Jan-21-09 08:08 AM
Response to Original message
8. V-J Day
Victory over Junior.
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norepubsin08 Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Jan-21-09 10:35 AM
Response to Original message
10. that's really cool
every unknown person that was there..I felt, represented all of us unknown people who also worked so hard but couldn't be there in person...thank you for attending and spending the time to make such a great historical tableau!
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Mayberry Machiavelli Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Jan-23-09 01:16 AM
Response to Original message
12. I found a pic of the event that shows me!
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Laura PourMeADrink Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Jan-23-09 08:28 AM
Response to Original message
13. We were in the same area as you ! 1 1/2 miles back near the Wash
Monument !

I agree with a lot of what you said. We pressed closer but then I freaked out because it was literally shoulder to shoulder and I had visions of being crushed so we pulled back. During the whole swearing in, it was in the back of my mind - how to get out. We left as soon as we could - but everyone was pushing - to find out you had to jump over a 4 ft wall. There were NO clear EXIT this way signs. I thought for sure someone would get hurt. I am so glad it didn't happen. We just followed the crowd up 18th, taking baby steps for hours.

The jumbotrons and speaker system was a joke. It was just a tiny screen in the distance for us and if someone moved their head you couldn't see. How much do they cost. They should have had ten times the number they did.

Another thing I missed - that you see in all the big rallies - are people with megaphones leading chants.

But, all in all, the feeling you got seeing thousands upon thousands of people all walking in from every single walk of life was something I will remember forever.
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