59th Presidential Inauguration

by Dayna Enalls

This year’s presidential inauguration appeared distinctly different than previous inauguration ceremonies. For the 59th Presidential Inauguration, Americans were strongly encouraged to participate virtually due to Covid-19 restrictions and additional safety protocols put in place after the insurrection event on January 6th, 2021. The allotted tickets dramatically decreased from 200,000 down to 1,000 tickets. The 1,000 tickets were reserved for every member of Congress and one guest. Normally, the 200,000 tickets are distributed to members of Congress for their constituents. During the inaugural ceremony, only 200 people were allowed on stage. Each person on stage was required to wear a mask and needed to provide a recent negative Covid-19 test prior to the ceremony. Even amid all the safety measures, the inauguration was nonetheless star-studded with powerful performances by Lady Gaga, Jennifer Lopez, Garth Brooks, and rising poet star Amanda Gorman. The Congressional Luncheon that typically follows the inauguration ceremony was cancelled for safety purposes.

Due to Covid-19 restrictions, the 59th Presidential Inauguration did not include the multiple inaugural balls or an in-person inaugural parade. Instead, there was a “Virtual Parade Across America” hosted by Tony Goldwyn and an Inauguration Special, “Celebrating America” hosted by Tom Hanks outside of the Lincoln Memorial during primetime. The “Virtual Parade Across America” featured performances by the New Radicals and Dance Across America. The “Celebrating America” inaugural special celebrated America’s heroes, highlighted Americans from all walks of life in different areas of the country, and reflected on the diversity, heritage, and resilience of the United States of America. The “Celebrating America” special featured performances by Jon Bon Jovi, Demi Lovato, Katy Perry, and John Legend.

There were also many inauguration traditions that had to be slightly modified due to Covid-19 limitations. The “Pass & Review” event that the newly sworn-in president performed to review the readiness of the military was socially distanced. The Presidential Escort to the White House that included representatives from every branch of the military was also socially distanced. American Airlines even suspended alcoholic beverage service on incoming flights to Washington, DC. The National Mall featured a “Field of Flags” – 191,500 United States flags and 56 pillars of light to represent every United State and territory. The “Field of Flags” was created to represent the American people who are unable to travel to the Capitol to celebrate the swearing in of President Joe Biden. Every effort was made by the Presidential Inauguration Committee and the Joint Congressional Committee on Inaugural Ceremonies to make the 59th Inauguration appear normal amidst Covid-19 limitations and heightened security protocols.