Inaugural events kick off

GW students can find out exactly what “happens here” this weekend as D.C. prepares for George W. Bush’s inauguration as the 43rd President of the United States and the University hosts Vice President-elect Dick Cheney at an inauguration event.

The 2001 swearing-in ceremony, a tradition since George Washington’s inauguration in New York City in 1789, will take place Saturday amid several days of celebrations, balls and other events.

On Friday Cheney hosts “The Vice President-elect Salutes America’s Veterans,” at the Smith Center at 1:30 p.m. The event was originally scheduled to be held at D.C.’s Stadium Armory, but was moved to GW because a larger venue was needed, said Gretchen King, director of media relations. She said tickets will be available for a limited number of students.

“Our first and highest priority is to have GW students at the event and as soon as we are alerted, we will quickly let students know how they can participate in the event,” said King.

Invitees to the event include Bush’s secretary designees, the Joint Chiefs of Staff and Medal of Honor recipients. G Street between 22nd and 23rd streets will be closed for the event.

Inauguration festivities begin Thursday at 3:30 p.m. with the Presidential Inaugural Opening Celebration at the Lincoln Memorial. The event, which is open to the public, will feature fireworks and a musical performance by Ricky Martin. Tickets for the event are available. Gates will open at noon for the kickoff event for the general public and 1 p.m. for ticket holders.

The swearing-in ceremony begins on the steps of the U.S. Capitol Saturday at 11:30 a.m., but event coordinators advise the public to arrive early. Tickets are not required for general viewing areas, which are standing-room only, but tickets do provide a better view than non-ticketed areas.

Tickets for the swearing-in ceremony are also available through congressional representatives – House representatives receive 198 tickets and senators receive 393 tickets.

GW College Republicans Chairman Bill Eldridge said he called his congressman, Edward Royce (R-Calif.), just after Christmas to get inauguration tickets.

“I’m excited to see George W. Bush take office,” he said. “It’s going to be an exciting time to see where Bush takes the country. It’s exciting for any GW student no matter what party you’re in because it’s a historical event.”

Metropolitan Police will close streets and bridges near GW’s campus, including Memorial Bridge, between 3 p.m. and 7 p.m. Thursday, according to a University press release.

Students, faculty and staff should use the Metro for transportation around the city and carry their GWorld identification cards with them at all times, according to the press release.

The Texas State Society will also hold the “Texas Black Tie and Boots Ball” at the Marriott Wardman Park Hotel Friday at 7 p.m. Country singer Clint Black will perform.

Most events are free and open to the public, but tickets ensure admission and a better view of proceedings. The Presidential Inaugural Committee has a hotline (202-484-1771) that provides general information about inauguration events.

Students can fax ticket orders to the committee (202-772-0410 and 202-772-0405). Ticket orders must specify the event and include the purchaser’s name, phone number, mailing address, email address, fax number and number of tickets requested.

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