Hail to the Chief: Virtual + IRL Ways to Celebrate the Biden Presidential Inauguration in DC
There won't be any pomp and circumstance for this year's presidential inauguration of President Elect Joe Biden and Vice-President Elect Kamala Harris. Even the biggest political event of the year has been reimagined with the usual crowd-pleasing events going virtual. Which is just as well since the entire National Mall will be closed.
But it's not all bad news. The show must go on and there are a host of virtual inauguration events -- official and non-official -- that you can join from home to get in the spirit of the occasion and get a flavor of inaugurations past and present.
So make your Biden-Harris-themed food and drink picks, settle in to celebrate the triumph of democracy and a Twitter rant-free four years.
Official Inauguration Events
Plans are still being announced, but so far the Biden-Harris Inauguration Committee has planned a tribute to lives lost to the coronavirus at the Lincoln Memorial Reflecting Pool on Jan. 19 at 5:30 p.m., and the Field of Flags, a public art display of 191,500 American, state and territorial flags on the Mall between Third and 13th streets NW, symbolizing people who aren’t traveling to the inauguration.
Instead of the traditional parade down Pennsylvania Avenue, a virtual "parade" will spotlight bands, dancers, poets, and performers from around the country. as the Bidens depart from the Capitol to the White House, with a presidential escort that features each branch of the military. Stay tuned to bideninaugural.org or @bideninagural for updates
Unofficial Inauguration Events + Recommendations
"A History of US Presidential Inaugurations" virtual tour
We can't help but wonder what the planners of George Washington's inauguration in 1789 would make of the preparations for Biden's swearing in on Jan 20, 2021. Join DC tour company Washington Walks on a virtual tour to learn how inaugurations have grown in scale and complexity through the years, and how inauguration planners have managed to pull them off. Monday, Jan 18, 2021 - 12:30pm/$10
Visit the art gallery celebrating women at Hotel Zena
Pay a visit to Hotel Zena, a hotel in Logan Circle that celebrates women, and check out their powerful art collection. Simply titled “Her,” it features an array of pieces created by DC artists, from a mural of late Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, photo of Rep Shirley Chisholm, to a sequined “gown” layered in 8,000 protest buttons supporting the fight for Women’s Rights, women and events that all helped pave the way for Kamala Harris. While there, toast to the inauguration with the #ImSpeaking cocktail, inspired by the VP-elect herself.
"Kamala's Way" author Dan Morain in conversation at Politics & Prose
Former LA Times reporter Dan Morain discusses his new book, "Kamala's Way" in a virtual conversation with Politics & Prose. The biography of the first Black woman to stand for Vice President, charts how the daughter of two immigrants in segregated California became one of this country’s most effective power players. A limited number of free tickets are available, and purchasing a copy of the book guarantees admission. Jan. 19 at 8 p.m. Free-$35.99.
Take a selfie at the Kamala LA LA LA Tree in Dupont Circle
Get a snap of the cheeky and photo-worthy Kamala LA LA LA Tree outside Italian restaurant Floriana in Dupont Circle. The tree features Harris as its topper and includes cut-outs of Harris' running mate, President-elect Joe Biden, American flags, pairs of Biden's favorite aviator sunglasses, mailboxes and first lady Melania Trump's 'Be Best' ornaments. Do it for the 'gram! It's expected to be up until the end of the month.
Spend an evening with the West Wing's President Jeb Bartlet
Who else has been binge-watching "West Wing" and wondering "What would Bartlet do?" throughout the 2020 election season? Actor Martin Sheen, who portrayed the fictional president over seven seasons, joins Ken Walsh of USA Today at this Smithsonian Associates event to discuss how television’s views of government have changed our views of actual leaders, and what we can learn from the fictional portrayal of politicians. Jan. 19 from 6:30 to 8 p.m. $20-$25
View the First Ladies of the United States portrait exhibition
Dr. Jill Biden, former Second Lady in the Obama administration, will become the First Lady when her husband is sworn in on Jan 20. Take a virtual tour of National Portrait Gallery's “Every Eye Is Upon Me: First Ladies of the United States” exhibition to explore the historical significance of this prominent position through the mode of portraiture. The exhibition spans nearly 250 years, from Martha Washington to Melania Trump, and features more than 60 portraits of the First Ladies, alongside related ephemera including iconic dresses.
Curl up with a good political book
There's lot to be said for unplugging from the inauguration coverage and curling up with a good book, like one of the current non-fiction titles about President-elect Biden and Dr. Jill Biden, Vice President-elect Kamala Harris, and other pivotal figures from the 2020 election.
On the fiction front, we love Obama/Biden mystery series, a bingeable and cathartic read that images Obama and Biden as BFFs-turned-detectives with the laugh-out-loud bromantic chemistry of Lethal Weapon’s Murtaugh and Riggs. Snag these and other titles from a DC independent bookstore or the DC Public Library.
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