The pomp and circumstance of the 58th presidential inauguration is about to take over Washington, D.C. as the Obama Administration oversees the peaceful transition of power to President-elect Donald Trump. If you’re wondering how to see the ceremony live, we’ve put together a Briefing guide to help you piece together a plan with some frequently asked questions:
Q: When does the inauguration take place?
Donald J. Trump will be sworn in as the 45th president at the 2017 presidential inauguration on Friday, January 20.
Q: Who plans the inauguration?
A joint congressional committee with members from both parties is in charge of planning the day’s ceremonies, including the traditional luncheon program which includes gifts, speeches and fine dining.
Q: Can anyone be in attendance?
You must have a ticket to attend the swearing-in-ceremony. Tickets are free, but are in limited supply and must be applied for through your local representative or senator’s office.
Q: How can I watch the ceremony?
Even if you don’t get a ticket on time, you can stand along with other Americans on Pennsylvania Avenue to celebrate the presidential procession and inaugural parade as it heads from the U.S. Capitol to the White House. There will also be giant video screens that’ll stream the proceedings to everyone in attendance at the National Mall.
Q: Where is the event held?
The president will be sworn in on the West Lawn of the U.S. Capitol.
Q: How much will the inauguration cost to put on, and who is paying for it?
There’s no way of telling up front, but we can look to the past for good measure. In 2009, President Obama’s first inauguration cost a hefty $170 million — although the swearing in ceremony itself cost just $1.24 million. The day’s proceedings are donation driven, and those funds are raised by the organizers of the inaugural committee.
Q: Who all will be there, and what’s the role of the outgoing president?
In addition to the public, members of Congress, federal judges, former presidents, high-ranking military officers, and other American officials are invited to attend the inauguration ceremony. The outgoing president typically will board a helicopter and head to Andrews Air Force Base, where a plane is ready to take him and his family back home. President Obama, however, intends to remain in Washington, D.C.
Q: Why is it on January 20?
On Jan. 20, 1937, President Franklin D. Roosevelt was sworn into office to begin his second term. It was only after the passage of the the Twentieth Amendment in 1933, that it became a tradition to hold the ceremony on this date. Previously, presidential terms began with a ceremony on March 4.
Q: Who swears in the president?
Traditionally, the Chief Justice will swear in the president. The most recent exception was upon Air Force One with Lyndon B. Johnson, following the assassination of President Kennedy. The Oath of Office at that time was administered by a federal judge readily available to board the plane.
Q: Where does the Oath of Office get its origins?
In Article II of the United States Constitution, the wording of the Oath of Office is written as such: “I do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will faithfully execute the Office of President of the United States, and will to the best of my ability, preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States.”
Q: Does the vice president get sworn in separately?
No. As part of the proceedings, the Vice Presidential oath of office is actually administered before the President-elect is sworn in at the same location.
Q: Will the proceedings be viewable on television?
Yes, most major networks will carry live coverage. And, here’s a fun fact: there is some interesting correlation between a president’s popularity and his inauguration’s TV viewership.
Q: How can I celebrate and toast to the new president?
There are many balls and galas open to the public, if you’d like to dress to the nines with other society people who wish to dance the halls of Washington. However, to be at the official balls where the president and vice president will be, you must have an official invitation.
Q: What if I want to protest?
You will find that very hard to do in the area surrounding the inauguration. The US National Park Service guarantees that space to the Presidential Inauguration Committee, who is responsible for pre-screening the ticket buyers that’ll have a direct view of the president.
Q: Will there be a member of Congress in a bunker in case things go wrong?
During the Cold War, the practice of having a “designated survivor” in the presidential line of succession was common but it was also an informal one. There is no law that signals a specific person for that role, however. Ultimately it is up to the discretion of the outgoing and incoming administrations. In 2009, for example, Defense Secretary Robert Gates did the honors for Obama’s swearing in.
Q: Where can I find more resources for planning?
DC.gov has a site dedicated to the inauguration, including a list of things you might want to know before you go. For ideas on where to stay and how to get around Washington on Inauguration Day, there are various tourism guides available. And if you’re ready to break out your checkbook and become an underwriter with to exclusive access to the president, here’s some information for you. It’ll cost you a cool $25,000 to $1,000,000, though.