You may have heard that a certain Mr. Barack H. Obama will be sworn in as President of the United States next week. They’re predicting a few (million) people might come to D.C. to watch.

I just found this picture (copied below) of Ronald Reagan’s 1981 inauguration, the first one to take place on the West front steps of the Capitol.  At 55 degrees, it was the warmest January inauguration on record.* (Official weather records go back to 1871.)


I guess it’s a pretty big crowd, but it looks incredibly skimpy compared to what I expect to see next week. And what do I expect to see next week, you ask? See that tan rectangle of the mall in Reagan’s photo? For Obama, I expect it to be completely packed with people watching a broadcast of the ceremony.

I expect a little something like this, but with more woolly hats:

Sebastian Willnow

Foto: Sebastian Willnow

Remember when candidate Obama, “the most famous celebrity in the world,” went to Berlin last summer? His speech drew a gigantic crowd. And those folks did not even have the two-and-a-half months to make travel arrangements that the inauguration go-ers have. Get, ready! Here they come…


*Weather footnote: Reagan wins for warmest and coldest inauguration. The weather, much like the American people, was extreme toward him — love him or hate him. Reagan’s 1985 inauguration was the coldest on record. It was held indoors, and they canceled the parade because it was so cold. I guess they worried the trombones might freeze to the poor kids’ mouths.  On Jan. 20th, 1985, the outside temperature at noon was 7 degrees F. The morning low was 4 below zero and the daytime high was 17 degrees. Wind chill during the afternoon was -10 to -20. brrrr!