Rehearsals Pave Way for Presidential Inauguration, Parade
By Claudette Roulo
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, Dec. 12, 2012 A map the size of half a basketball court covers the floor of the D.C. Armory today. On it, hundreds of people are rehearsing what one military official describes as a “ballet” -- the events of the 57th Presidential Inauguration.
Military and civilian personnel involved in planning the inauguration gather at the D.C. Armory in Washington, D.C., Dec. 12 to rehearse events surrounding the inaugural parade. The rehearsal took place using a 60 feet by 40 feet floor map that features 3-D models of various landmarks, including the White House and Lincoln Memorial. DOD photo by Claudette Roulo
(Click photo for screen-resolution image);high-resolution image available.
The inauguration and parade will showcase months of planning between military and civilian organizations, according to a Joint Task Force National Capital Region news release.
“[The rehearsal is] a very good tool for synchronizing events in time and space,” said Army Maj. Gen. Michael S. Linnington, the commanding general of JTF-NCR. It allows participating units to actually walk on the map as they talk through the sequence of events surrounding the inauguration and parade, he said.
“The military does rehearsals better than anybody,” the general said. “As they’re walking through the routes, folks that are along the routes or have other events taking place can see the effect [on their event].”
“The majority of the parade is civilian and we have to help stage and move those folks as well,” said Air Force Brig. Gen. James P. Scanlan, JTF-NCR’s deputy for inaugural support. “It’s an incredible amount of folks that have to be moved into the mall area and onto the parade route.”
Staging the bands, floats, horse units and buses all in one day is a very difficult task, Linnington said.
“Once you see it all happen [on the map], it helps you de-conflict all those movements,” he said.
The actual setup for the inauguration largely happens less than 24 hours beforehand to avoid disrupting traffic and city residents, Linnington said.
“It’s amazing how quickly it takes place,” he added.
“If you look now, obviously you see the reviewing stand by the White House is already under construction [and] the stand up on the west Capitol front [is] already under construction, so there’s a lot being done that we can do now,” Scanlan said.
“It’s quite a ballet when you think about it,” he said. “In the wee hours of the morning prior to the inauguration, that’s when a lot of the finer details will be set up.” Those details, he added, include placing warming tents, bike racks and barriers.
In addition, traffic lights and signs along Pennsylvania Avenue will be taken down and then put back up before rush hour the next morning, said Army Maj. Gen. Errol R. Schwartz, the commanding general of the D.C. National Guard.
Linnington said he expects to conduct about 24 more rehearsals before the inauguration, each focusing on various aspects of the inauguration itself and the events surrounding it.
“Today’s rehearsal is a ceremonial rehearsal,” he said, “where we’re synchronizing all the ceremonial events that will take place and the support for those events on inauguration day.”
The rehearsals allow everyone to synthesize the months of planning that have taken place, the general said, and to ensure that “in the final 40 days -- the final stages of the event -- there are no missteps or misunderstandings.”