I'm two days out from covering the Inauguration, and my mind is still spinning. What a great time to be in TV news! Here's a rundown of my exciting experience:
We stayed in a hotel about 6 blocks from the mall, because there was no way we could get in and out of DC and make deadlines. On Tuesday morning, I woke up about 1:30am to finish writing an early-morning story previewing the day. I sent my voice track via laptop and my producer and I headed out to wait for a car service to take us to our camera. Because we were on the north side of the parade route, we couldn't cross over.
The car dropped us as close as he could - about 6 blocks from our location. Walking, it was interesting to see all the people, and their kids, camped out in the cold, waiting to be let loose on the Mall!
I barely made it to my camera in time for a 4:30am Early Today show hit. My co-worker was originally supposed to do it, but she got stuck in the security sweep.
At 5am, the most amazing thing happened: people started RACING onto the mall in droves. And I do mean racing! For almost two hours, I watched this unbelievable spectacle of people running for blocks, trying to get the best spot. I don't think I'll ever forget the older lady I saw (about 70) pushing her walker across the grass in the dark, trying to keep up with the masses.
By daylight, the 4 blocks in front of me and about 7 more behind me were full and shut down. People were singing and trying to stay warm in blankets. What really made an impact on me was the cheerfulness of this crowd. They'd been up all night, now standing for hours in the cold. And everyone was smiling!
I did live reports off and on until about 9:30am. During the actual Inauguration, we were right in the thick of it - taking pictures and interviewing people in the crowd for our afternoon story. The sheer emotion of it was overwhelming. I spoke with a woman from Texas, a soldier, who'd been sick, but made the effort to get to DC because she believed Obama would bring her fellow troops home from Iraq. I talked to another man who was so overcome with emotion when Obama took the oath. He said he felt he could do anything.
I had many friends and relatives who came for the event. We tried to touch base via text or cell, but finding anyone in that crowd was nearly impossible.
I put together a story on the crowds for afternoon newscasts and did live shots from the now-empty mall until about 8:30pm. Then we walked back to the hotel.
What a day!