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Obama's second inauguration may be smaller, but will still sparkle

While the crowd attending President Barack Obama's second inauguration Jan. 21 is expected to be much smaller than four years ago, the event will certainly be a star-studded celebration. The first family will lead a festive parade and pop celebrities Beyonce and Katy Perry will preform.

By Nedra PicklerAssociated Press / January 12, 2013

Barack Obama, (l.), joined by his wife Michelle, takes the oath of office from Chief Justice John Roberts to become the 44th president of the United States at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C., on Jan. 20, 2009. Obama is putting a symbolic twist on a time-honored tradition, taking the oath of office for his second term with his hand placed not on a single Bible, but two, one owned by Martin Luther King Jr. and one by Abraham Lincoln.

Jae C. Hong/File

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Washington

President Barack Obama's second inauguration is shaping up as a high-energy celebration smaller than his first milestone swearing-in, yet still designed to mark his unprecedented role in American history with plenty of eye-catching glamour.

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A long list of celebrity performers will give the once-every-four years right of democratic passage the air of a star-studded concert, from the bunting-draped west front of the Capitol, where Obama takes the oath Jan. 21, to the Washington Convention Center, which is expected to be packed with 40,000 ball-goers that evening.

The first family will lead a parade of clanging bands, elaborate floats and marchers, including costumed dancers, prancing horses and military units, down Pennsylvania Avenue. The president will dance with the first lady, whose dress seems destined to be most anticipated fashion statement of the second Obama administration.

Estimates of turnout are 600,000 to 800,000, compared with the 1.8 million in the record crowd on the National Mall four years ago to see the first swearing in of a black president. The mood of this 57th inauguration will be tempered by the weak economy, high unemployment, the aftermath of the Connecticut elementary school shooting and the long war in Afghanistan that's expected to require U.S. combat forces through the end of next year.

Yet recent developments have shown that inaugural enthusiasm is high.

A limited offering of $60 inaugural ball tickets for the general public sold out quickly, and inauguration planners have tried to crack down on scalping business that's sprung up online. There's an impressive list of celebrities, including Beyonce, Katy Perry and Usher, who have signed on to perform.

While organizers said Obama was cutting back the number of balls from 10 last time to just two this year, The Associated Press has learned that they are expecting more than 35,000 to attend the larger of the two and 4,000 to attend a ball in honor of U.S. troops — double the size of two years ago.

Another factor that could increase turnout is the unseasonably warm weather in Washington. Early forecasts indicate that Obama will be taking the oath of office while the temperature is in the 40s, with hardly any chance of precipitation.

Steve Kerrigan, president and CEO of the Presidential Inaugural Committee, said that just because the festivities are going to be smaller doesn't mean they are going to be any less significant.

"What we've been seeing from the very beginning is a passion and energy for this inaugural because people want to be a part of history," Kerrigan said. "This is a moment that's only happened 56 other times."

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