Attendance projections scaled back for Obama's inauguration - KAIT Jonesboro, AR - Region 8 News, weather, sports

Attendance projections scaled back for Obama's inauguration

WASHINGTON, DC (CNN) - Barack Obama's inauguration may not draw as many millions as planners had feared.

With less than a month before the historic event, the projections for crowds are being scaled back significantly.

Still, when you hear officials in Washington talk numbers, and you think about Barack Obama's track-record, the term 'scaled back' is relative.

From Tiergarten park in Berlin to grant park in Chicago, Barack Obama has proven he's a draw.

But officials are now dialing back projections that he'll draw four to five million people to Washington for his inauguration.

Between DC's mayor, Adrian Fenty, and the city's congresswoman, Eleanor Holmes Norton, recent predictions ranged between 1.5 and three million. But at this point, they're not even committing to those numbers.

"I used a number security people often use and they in using it tell us it is a guesstimate. There are no reliable numbers. And anyone who tells you don't know what kind of event this is. We are throwing away the old playbook," says Norton.

That's because even 1.5 million people would shatter the old record of 1.2 million for Lyndon Johnson's 1965 inauguration.

The city's capacity to handle those kinds of crowds will likely be stretched to its limits on January 20.

Officials of DC's subway system say they expect to carry about a million passengers that day, but cannot accommodate two million.

The mayor says the estimated 10,000 buses flooding into town is his biggest logistical worry.

"One it's a lot of buses coming in. Two, you've got to park them somewhere and three, they're pretty much coming in for a less-than-24-hour period, so they're going to be in and out," says Fenty.

That's prompted a warning from city officials to people with tickets to the inauguration, or those wanting to line the parade route: if you're living or staying within a two-mile radius, walk to the event.

But that also carries risks.

"My biggest worry is the elderly, the people who are not used to long walks. Even if they are not elderly, the people who are not used to the cold weather," says Norton.

Congresswoman Norton says she's trying to get churches, government buildings and other establishments to open their doors so people can take shelter if they need to. She's optimistic she can get them to do that, but she doesn't have a full commitment from them yet.

Posted by Logan Smith
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