Washington is gearing up for a weekend of celebration and pageantry ahead of Barack Obama’s inauguration for a second presidential term on Monday.
Up to half a million people are expected to visit the US capital. The main avenues around the White House have been decorated. Last minute details are under constant review.
Abraham Lincoln stayed at the Willard InterContinental before his inauguration. The hotel’s prestigious Jefferson Suite costs just a snip this weekend: only around $25,000 (18,000 euros).
“This is a parade viewing suite. We have some amazing views of Pennsylvania Avenue,” said Barbara Bahny, the hotel’s Director of Communications, as she showed euronews round. “The suite’s dining room is based on the theme of the Oval Office, we have an oval-shaped room here.”
In Washington’s oldest watering hole, the Round Robin Bar, Jim Rewes the bartender has been concocting something special for the occasion.
“Well, Obama being a president of the people, he grew up in Hawaii. So what I have is a cocktail I call a Blue Hawaiian. It’s a wonderful cocktail, a light libation of extraordinary character. It’s one of my Obama drinks,” he said proudly.
Events get underway on Saturday; Beyonce and Stevie Wonder are among several artists due to perform.
Euronews correspondent in Washington, Stefan Grobe, said:
“President Obama’s inauguration is the biggest political celebration of the year – and probably for the next four years, in a country that is essentially broke. When the party is over, the battle over debt ceilings and spending cuts will produce a sure hangover.”