By Emily Grimm, Kayla Day, Lauren Bunce, Zach Keller, Jill Applegate
While attendance may be down compared to the inauguration in 2009, city officials still expect 600,000 to 800,000 tourists to venture to the city. This morning we were tasked, like tourists, with finding different areas of Washington, D.C. using only our maps and intuition. We made the long trek of over 25 blocks to the the monumental Albert Einstein statue at the end of the National Mall. Needless to say we felt as though our feet were about to fall off.
As we explored the city we realized that there are many more vantage points to the inaugural process than one would assume.
When we first began our journey we noticed right away the areas that capitalize on tourists traveling in for the inauguration. There were street vendors selling custom inaugural shirts, hats, and sweatshirts. If visitors want a one of a kind shirt showcasing the 57th Inauguration with President Obama’s shining face, you can be sure to find one easily.
Coming up on a crosswalk, our group was slightly startled. “Come on people there are only nine days until the inauguration, prices will go up! Act now!” yelled one driver of a bike taxi. Until the light changed, we were being heckled by a local street worker. It became clear to us that tourists play an important part in sales during the inauguration.
Even the homeless try to profit from the tourism. Our group noticed an old man playing old hymns on his trumpet asking for donations. We noticed that many “tourist families” made sure to stop and spare a few bills or some change.
From a small business perspective, the inauguration can have both positive and negative effects. Chelle, the manager of Beadazzled, a small bead store for those aspiring to make their own jewelry, explained how “events like this can either help or hurt our business depending on street blockades and other traffic stops.”
For lunch, our group traveled to a local burger joint where we immersed ourselves in local cuisine. We asked our server, Jeff, on his thoughts on business and he stated that he does not expect to have more turnout this year. He feels that the hype from Obama’s first term is over. “It’s the same president just a new ball game.”
Through these vantage points our group was able to get a better taste of Washington during inauguration time and witness effects of tourism.
– Emily, Kayla, Lauren, Zach, and Jill