Tuesday, January 20, 2009

# Posted 5:41 PM by Ariel David Adesnik  

A GLIMPSE OF THE PRESIDENTIAL LIMO: Yes, I was that close to greatness. I was standing on New York Avenue, looking toward 15th Street from about fifty yards up the block. Those who arrived at the parade route early were able to line up along the curb. The rest of us had to stay outside the security perimeter, which consisted of eight-foot-tall black metal fences. The crowd lined up five or six deep behind the fence, which stretched all the way across the avenue. One man stood on top of a parking meter to get a better view. One woman climbed a tree. When the first marching band passed, all I could see was a crowd of white hats, the brass tops of the band's tubas and French horns, and the Marines' bayonets.

Everyone was waiting for the electric moment when the President would walk by. There were a number of false alarms. We had no way to tell when the President was getting closer, because we were fifty yards back from the parade route, with ten story office buildings on either side. So we listened. At once point, a loud cheer went up from several blocks away and everyone got excited. A rhythmic chant of 'O-ba-ma' began. But it was premature.

While waiting for the big moment, the crowd was remarkably quiet and relaxed, which is unusual for a parade. Like yesterday, the crowd seemed to focus on Obama the man, not on politics (although one man next to me held up a small hand-lettered sign calling for the arrest of Bush and Cheney).

The deep rumble of truck motors provided the real indication that Obama was getting closer. First came the media truck, with cameras facing backwards on a raised platform to give photographers and cameramen a clear view of the President. As the cheers got louder and the limo came closer, everyone stood on their tip toes. Digital cameras rose in the air. Through the sea of arms, I was able to make out the top of the limo. And then it passed by. Almost immediately, the crowd began streaming toward home.

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