The group of us that went down (my sister and I, plus two of our friends), secured our spot on The National Mall (close to 12th St NW and Madison Drive) before 9 AM. They replayed some of the concert from Sunday while we stood or sat in the cold and waited. What you may not have caught on TV was the big laugh we in the crowd made the first time an announcer told everyone to take their seats. The other bit the broadcasts may not have shared was the booing from the crowd when George W. Bush was announced.
Getting out of DC took us longer than getting in. The police and National Guard personnel were not very helpful at all. We spent a lot of time stuck in a confused crowd at L’Enfant Plaza because they decided to change one of the entry points to exit only and didn’t tell anyone. We saw uniformed National Guardsmen standing on top of escalators who did and said nothing. I still haven’t figured out how all that law enforcement managed to not have a single bullhorn or PA system to direct crowds. The four of us managed to find our way to the other L’Enfant Plaza entrance by worming our way through the crowd. We might have seen it sooner, were it not for the fleet of tour buses parked on D Street. They were tall enough to block the other entrance from view, even when I got a chance to stand on a low wall. The commingling of people trying to get on tour buses and those of us trying to get into the Metro station (each of us going in different directions) contributed to a lot of gridlock. There was at least one ambulance trying to get through part of the crowd we were stuck in, and they weren’t having much luck.
The Metrorail folks definitely get an A for today’s performance. We didn’t wait more than a minute or two for a train the entire day. They had enough cars that we didn’t have to let a single train pass in order for all four of us to get on. Law enforcement in the L’Enfant Plaza area gets a D. No crowd direction or control, no information or conflicting information.
Even with these minor hassles, I’m glad I went down there. I had great company with me and a good time as a result.