January 20, 2009

'Cool' View: Crowds Brave Cold, Lines For a Place in History

WASHINGTON — Forty-five minutes after the Newseum’s 10 a.m. Inauguration Day opening, nearly 2,000 people had already streamed through the C Street entrance. Many, like Cheryl Clinton of Bowie, Md., withstood freezing temperatures and blustery winds to line up at 4 a.m.

"I wanted my children to have this experience," said Clinton, who was visiting the Newseum for the first time. "How could I not come?"

Fifteen-year-old Grace Barnes and her mother, Lynne Perri, who queued up at 6:10 a.m., bypassed the galleries and made a beeline for a choice spot at the glass windows that overlook the parade route on historic Pennsylvania Avenue.

"There was no way we were seeing the exhibits," Barnes said.

Crystal Crawford of Los Angeles, Calif., got through the doors just as Barack Obama was preparing to take the oath of office.

"The line was long, but it was worth the wait," she said. "I have such pride in the excellence of character, intelligence and humility of our new president."

For the past four days, the Newseum has been the place to be and be seen during Inauguration festivities. Online publisher Arianna Huffington of The Huffington Post hosted an Inaugural Eve party that drew hundreds of A-list celebrities. Many of the major broadcast, cable and radio news networks — including ABC, CBS, CNN, Fox, MSNBC and NBC — have used the building for live broadcasts since Jan. 17.

"I saw Charles Gibson and George Stephanopoulos," Stacy Dussault of Bethesda, Md., said. "It was very cool."

Her husband, Joe, was impressed with the ceremony that was shown on the 40-foot-by-22-foot high-definition media screen.

"It was chilling. It was powerful," he said. "I feel like something huge has happened."

Several visitors applauded when a picture of the helicopter carrying former President George W. Bush and former first lady Laura Bush appeared on the screen.

"No disrespect, but you’ve got to go," said Crawford, who had a 6:45 p.m. flight back to Los Angeles soon after the parade.

"I’ve been crying half the day," said Fannell Matthews, who waited for Hampton University’s marching band to pass the Newseum. The Chicago native had mixed emotions about Obama’s presidency.

"We’re losing our senator for the United States. It’s a real sacrifice."

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