The presidential inauguration is of course a time-honored tradition, but that doesn’t mean it’s the same every single four years. Here’s a look at some lesser-known facts about Obama’s second time at it.
This time around, Obama accepted unlimited donations.
In 2009, he set a cap of $50,000 per donor, according to the Associated Press. But this year, the President accepted much greater sums in exchange for access and perks. A minimum of $250,000 from individuals or $1 million from corporations put donors at the “Washington” level: a primo VIP package that includes four tickets to the inaugural ball, two bleacher seats for the parade and more. (The “Adams” package — achieved with $150,000 donations from individuals or $500,000 donations from corporations — offers two tickets to the ball but none to the parade bleachers.)
Obama will take the oath of office using three different Bibles.
On Sunday, he was sworn in with a Bible that belongs to the First Lady’s family. On Monday, he’ll use two more: the one used by Abraham Lincoln at his first inauguration and another that belonged to Martin Luther King Jr. King often took it with him when he traveled, and he is said to have used it for inspiration while writing sermons and speeches.
This year’s inauguration budget rests at $1.237 million.
That’s down from the 2009 budget of $1.24 million, according to ABC News. But the budget only covers the actual swearing-in ceremony and luncheon. (With the additional costs of the parade, security, concerts and balls, Obama’s first inauguration really cost $170 million — funded by both the government and wealthy donors.)
50,000 people volunteered to help prepare for the festivities.
And that’s a low-end estimate, according to the Associated Press. Those interested were prompted to apply online, but not everybody got a spot.
Ben’s Chili Bowl has made 1,000 gallons of chili ahead of the event.
The landmark D.C. eatery famously served Obama a meal before his first inauguration. And it looks like Ben’s is hoping to maintain the presidential connection this year as well, by serving tons (well, gallons) of the meaty stuff to those partaking in the festivities.
There was an elaborate dress rehearsal.
Every aspect of the ceremony was carefully practiced on Sunday, Jan. 13. It included a rehearsal of Beyoncé’s national-anthem performance and stand-ins for the POTUS and FLOTUS. (All stand-ins were played by randomly assigned volunteers, except for the Bidens and Obamas, who were played by military officers nominated by their superiors for the roles.)
Richard Blanco is the first LGBT, first Latino and youngest inaugural poet ever.
The 44-year-old Cuban immigrant, who was born in Spain and moved to Miami as a baby, now resides in rural Maine. His work often delves into the immigrant experience and explores themes of home and family. However, he’s written new material specifically for the inauguration festivities.
A total of 147 horses will participate in the inaugural parade.
Still, the parade likely won’t be as extravagant as the one that commemorated Dwight D. Eisenhower’s first inauguration in 1953. Considered the largest inaugural parade in U.S. history, it included 73 bands and 59 floats — and lasted four and a half hours.
The Ritz-Carlton offered a $100,000 “Access Washington” package.
Lavish isn’t the right word to use here; it’s simply not strong enough. This package included two first-class round-trip tickets to D.C., one designer dress and one luxury tuxedo (hand-selected by a Saks Fifth Avenue fashion consultant), a four-night stay in a luxury suite and a private cupcake-decorating party. Oh, and a one-of-a-kind diamond-and-ruby pin.