It may be freezing in Washington in January, but the city is a red-hot destination for people around the country and the world eager to see President-elect Barack Obama sworn into office.
The nation's capital is preparing for a massive influx of visitors on Inauguration Day -- January 20, 2009 -- and the surrounding period of festivities, galas and celebrations.
"We've had a tremendous amount of interest from travelers who want to be here for the big historic moment," said Rebecca Pawlowski, director of communications for Destination DC, Washington's official convention and tourism corporation.
"It's certainly safe to say [crowds will be bigger compared to] the last inauguration, just because whenever there's a change in administration and whenever there's a change of party, it always fuels a little more interest." Some Americans began making their travel plans well before the election, excited by the possibility of seeing the first African-American become president of the United States.
"I just feel like if you had the opportunity to be there for the Gettysburg Address or when Hank Aaron hit his historic home run, would you take it?" said Dennis Madsen, 39, an urban planner in Atlanta, Georgia.He and his wife are planning to either pack up their station wagon or rent a motor home and take their 14-month-old son to Washington to see as much as possible of the inauguration.
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Want inaugural tickets?
• U.S. senators and representatives receive a limited quantity of free tickets to the swearing-in that they can distribute to the public
• Contact them if you would like to attend the ceremony
• Tickets will be given out in January