Fear of Crowds, Cold Deter Inauguration-Goers

Organizers scale back crowd estimations as Obama supporters heed warnings
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Jan 17, 2009 8:54 AM CST
The US Army Herald Trumpets ensemble and various members of the military practice for the upcoming presidential inauguration, Friday, Jan. 16, 2009, on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial in Washington.   (AP Photo/Haraz N. Ghanbari)
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(Newser) – The biggest gathering in Washington DC's history may be a little smaller than expected, the New York Times reports. Would-be visitors for Inauguration Day are starting to take heed of warning about crowds and cold, and many have decided to celebrate in their hometown instead. Officials still expect a logistical nightmare, but have scaled back their crowd size estimation from 4 million to between 1.5 and 3 million.

Mixed messages account for some of the uncertainty around crowd size, with organizers promoting a tempting array of star-studded events while also making dire warnings. The president-elect himself has gently suggested that people consider staying home, noting that the day “will mean long lines, a tough time getting around, and most of all, a lot of walking on what could be a very cold winter day.”