Barack Obama’s High-Tech Parade

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Barack Obama’s inaugural parade is notable both for the size of the crowd it drew and for its use of Twitter to keep parade buffs informed about last minute changes.

With over 10,000 parade participants from all 50 states, last minute changes are inevitable. So the Armed Forces Inaugural Committee, which is in charge of the parade, is using Twitter to keep the public informed about changes in the parade line-up.

Since 1789, the US military has played a key role in planning the presidential inaugural parade. The parade follows a 1.5 mile route down Pennsylvania Avenue from the Capitol to a white, bullet proof reviewing stand in front of the White House.

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A traditional walk

Following a tradition started by former president Jimmy Carter, President Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama left their limousine and walked down Pennsylvania Avenue for about 7 minutes before getting back into their car. Vice President Biden and his wife, Jill, also walked for a brief portion of their trip from Capitol Hill to the White House.

Spectators were lined up 10 deep in some places to watch the parade and the new President, traveling in a heavily armored Cadillac. There was a huge crowd at the security checkpoint in front of the New Executive Office Building around the corner from the White House – but at least the tent that tourists passed through for screening was heated. With Washington's temperature currently 22 degrees, that was a blessing.

Some disappointed ticket holders

The Secret Service closed at least one entrance to the parade route and some people who came to Washington with tickets for the parade were not allowed to enter. Parade planners said that the route could accommodate between 300,000 and 350,000 people.

Presidents get a major say in the units that march and where in the parade they come. After representatives of the US armed forces, the next two units – a band and cadets from a Junior Reserve Officers Training Corps (JROTC) – were from the Punahou School in Hawaii. The school’s most famous alum is Barack Obama.

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