Basalt students take in D.C. |

Basalt students take in D.C.

Polite in Public/Special to the Aspen Times Basalt High School students and teachers pose at the Manifest Hope Gallery, a three-day Georgetown exhibit of art inspired by President Barack Obama. Pictured are Tory Schiller, Jake Kissel, Alex Van Alstyne, Helen Leistikow, Noel Chiarelli, Kelli Kovach, Chandler Crymble, Seann Goodman, Chris Walker, Lyss Rouseve, Grace Sinclair, Christopher McDonnell and Andy Delaney.

WASHINGTON ” On Monday, the National Mall was a circus, full of journalists on every street corner. There were lines, lines and more lines. The subways were packed. Outside the Cannon Office Building, people from all over the country waited up to five hours to pick up inauguration tickets.

Elated political watchdogs had their chance to throw shoes at a 30-foot tall inflatable Bush with a Pinocchio nose in Dupont Circle, while protesters passed out black cards that read, “Arrest Bush, Yes, we should.” That was the only glimmer of negativity or resentment coming from the crowds.

At Union Station, where we ate dinner, it was so crowded that you could barely travel from one food stand to another, but everyone was so cheerful and friendly it didn’t matter.

We even overheard one Washington, D.C., resident say, “Hey, all you can step on my toes all you want tonight, because I know you’ll be gone come Wednesday. But we love you tourists.”

The huge celebrity status granted to Barack Obama amazes us. There are entire galleries of art devoted to him, such as the Manifest Hope Gallery, in Georgetown, a three-day exhibit of art inspired by Obama that we visited.

Local vendors were selling all kinds of Obama memorabilia, the likes of which made us wonder if any president before ever drawn this type of attention (exempting all the derogatory Bush paraphernalia). On Martin Luther King Day, one T-shirt read: “Rosa Sat, so Martin could March, so Obama could Run.”

Traffic is insane and we are staying a little out of town so it takes us a while to get to our hotel in Herndon, Va. Need we mention that the hotel is packed and bursting?

Tuesday, we got up at 3:30 a.m. to drive into the city, in order to have a good place to view this historic event. Two more of our students were granted tickets to the insider seats at the inauguration ” for a total of three. The rest of us watched the event from the National Mall.

Just getting to the inauguration was an adventure of epic proportions. We walked 11 miles, waited in lines, and tried to stay warm. But the speech was amazing and we could recognize the tiny dot as the man we elected.

The Metro stations on the National Mall are closed. The city is on hold. But it is the dawn of a new day.

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