Montgomery County preps for Inauguration Day -- Gazette.Net


During President Barack Obama’s re-election campaign, Linda Kolko served as an “Obama for America” neighborhood team leader. She and a group of fellow Takoma Park-area residents operated phone banks and canvassed Virginia neighborhoods, drumming up votes and support to help elect Obama to a second term.

On Jan. 21, Kolko plans to watch him take the oath of office for a second term from the Newseum in Washington, D.C., before attending an unofficial inaugural ball, as well as one of the official inaugural balls at the Washington Convention Center.

“I get to dress up twice,” she said.

On Jan. 17, Kolko said, she will be a member of a concierge team at The Mayflower Renaissance Washington, D.C., Hotel and assist VIPs and dignitaries — such as elected officials and celebrities — with various logistics such as finding a shuttle. She will do the same thing Jan. 22 at the Washington Hilton in Washington, D.C.

But after the president officially begins his second term, it’s back to work, Kolko said, adding that the momentum of support for and involvment in the president’s policies has to be maintained.

Other Montgomery County individuals and groups are also planning to celebrate the inauguration, either in the nation’s capital or closer to home.

IMPACT Silver Spring, a nonprofit organization that works on challenging community issues, plans to host 30 members of its sister organization, Lawrence Community Works from Lawrence, Mass., for the inauguration.

Members of IMPACT’s staff and neighbors from the Silver Spring area will open up their homes starting Jan. 20. They will kick off the celebrations with a welcoming and reconnecting party that night for the organizations and other leaders in the community, IMPACT Director Ronnie Galvin said.

“It’s just to celebrate the spirit of the community,” Galvin said.

The organizations will be up “bright and early” Monday morning to take the Metro down to the National Mall for the inauguration and travel back to Silver Spring for a potluck dinner where attendees will network and talk about strategies to build community.

Good for business

Kelly Groff, director of the Montgomery County Conference and Visitors Bureau, said January is generally a slow time of year for hotels, so the influx of tourists for the inauguration will help area businesses.

“Our hotels are getting business this year as a result of the inauguration that they would not have gotten last year,” she said. “When there’s more people in our hotels, there’s more people in restaurants and shopping and taking cabs.”

While Groff does not expect quite as many visitors for the inauguration this year as in 2009, she said the event will still likely have a big impact. Hotels in Bethesda, Chevy Chase and Silver Spring area already are filling up or have limited availability, she said.

The City of Rockville plans to broadcast the inauguration ceremony in the Richard Montgomery High School cafeteria following a Martin Luther King Jr. Day celebration at the school. Jenny Kimball, assistant city manager, said the holiday will likely mean less rush-hour traffic to conflict with people traveling for the inauguration.

“We’re not expecting a whole lot here in Rockville during Inauguration Day,” she said.

Getting around

Commemorative tickets for MARC train service to the inauguration will be sold in advance and at several locations on the day of the event. On the Brunswick line, MTA staff will sell tickets, for cash only, on Inauguration Day at the Brunswick station from 7 to 8 a.m. and the Germantown station from 7:30 to 9 a.m., according to an MTA press release.

Metro will open at 4 a.m. on Inauguration Day and close at 2 a.m. on Jan. 22. Peak fares will be in effect while Metro provides rush-hour service between 4 a.m. and 9 p.m.

Commemorative SmarTrip cards with President Obama’s image are on sale online. The card is pre-loaded with a one-day Metrorail pass and can be used for unlimited free Metrobus trips on Inauguration Day.

According to a WMATA press release, the Metrorail and Metrobus stations closest to the Mall will be closed, including the Archives-Navy Memorial-Penn Quarter, Mt. Vernon Square and Smithsonian Metrorail stations.

For information about security procedures at inaugural events, including a list of prohibited items, visit

Celebrating close to home

For those who don’t want to fight the crowds to see the official inauguration festivities, Montgomery County residents can spend the weekend dancing in celebration of the presidential inauguration at any of a number of unofficial balls planned for the weekend.

Starting off the celebrations is the Dreamers Inaugural Ball at 8 p.m. Jan. 19 at the Silver Spring Civic Building, 1 Veterans Place. The celebration, hosted by Dreamers Entertainment, will feature live entertainment, an open bar and hors d’oeuvres. Cost is $120 per ticket. Formal attire is requested.

The Caribbean Inaugural Ball is a Caribbean-themed celebration to be held 8 p.m. to 1 a.m. Jan. 20 at the Bethesda Marriott Hotel, 5151 Pooks Hill Road, Bethesda. Music will be provided by The Image Band, Tony Roy and Yawd Link Reggae Band, and DJ Sprang International. The event is sponsored by Caribbean Opportunity Group, LLC. Cost is $100. There is a black tie optional dress code.

The Heritage Inaugural Ball is a family-friendly event hosted by Jack and Jill Inc., Montgomery County, Maryland Chapter. It will be 7 to 11 p.m. Jan. 20 at the Silver Spring Civic Building, 1 Veterans Place. Admission includes dancing, food, door prizes and activities. Cost is $50 for adults, $25 for teens and children. Children must be at least 5 years old to attend.

The three inaugural balls above are listed among the many unofficial balls on the website More information is available there.

The Folklore Society of Greater Washington will hold an Alternative, Non-Partisan Inaugural Ball from 7:30 to 11 p.m. on Jan. 21 in The Spanish Ballroom at Glen Echo Park, 7300 MacArthur Blvd., Glen Echo. Cost is $20 at the door; festive casual attire is suggested.

The evening will feature music by The Gigmeisters. It is presented by the Folklore Society of Greater Washington in cooperation with the World Music and Dance Institute, the Glen Echo Park Partnership for Arts and Culture, Montgomery County and the National Park Service.

Staff writers Sylvia Carignan, Peggy McEwan, Lindsay A. Powers, Kara Rose and Elizabeth Waibel contributed to this report.,,,,