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Interested in participating in inaugural celebrations? Plan ahead

WASHINGTON—For out-of-towners interested in coming to Washington for the week's inaugural festivities, the best advice is to log on, call ahead and be prepared to hurry up and wait.

Officials at the 55th Presidential Inaugural Committee said they're still taking orders for tickets for events, including bleacher seats for the inaugural parade. The parade starts at 2 p.m. EST and covers a 1.7-mile route along Pennsylvania Avenue from Capitol Hill to the White House. Bleacher ticket prices are $15, $60 and $125. To order, go to the inaugural committee's Web site ( or call the ticket hotline at 202-314-2600 from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. daily.

"We have accumulated many thousand requests," said Kevin Sheridan, an inaugural committee spokesman. "They are doing their best to accommodate as many as possible."

You can stand for free along open sections of the parade route, of course, but you have to go through security checkpoints first. The Secret Service recommends that you allow enough time to get through the checkpoints, which open at 9 a.m.

Getting a spot to witness the noon swearing-in ceremony at the Capitol is likely to be more of a challenge. Tickets are required for the Capitol Lawn, the Capitol Reflecting Pool, and the National Mall from Third Street Northwest to Fourth Street Northwest. Parking downtown will be difficult because of an extensive number of street closings and parking restrictions on open streets. Members of the Senate, House of Representatives and the inaugural committee are distributing tickets. For more information on the ceremony, visit

Getting a hotel room for inaugural week may also be difficult, but not impossible, according to Victoria Isley, a spokeswoman for the Washington, D.C., Convention and Tourism Corp. Traditionally, Washington's hotel occupancy rate surges to 85 percent during inaugural week. In a non-inaugural January week, the rate is about 52 percent, Isley said.

"There are still rooms available," Isley said. "It's tight, but you can find a room for sure."

To learn more about room availability and price, Isley suggests visiting the convention and tourism Web site (


(c) 2005, Knight Ridder/Tribune Information Services.

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