Frequently Asked Questions

What is the National Park Service's role in Presidential Inaugurations?

Answer: The National Park Service (NPS) maintains the National Mall (used for staging for the Inauguration), Pennsylvania Avenue National Historic Site (the parade route), and Lafayette Park (site of a news media reviewing stand opposite the Presidential Reviewing Stand on White House grounds). The NPS has been directly involved in all inaugurations in Washington since Franklin Delano Roosevelt was President, or for more than 70 years.

The NPS also works in a support role to the Presidential Inaugural Committee (PIC) , the Armed Forces Inaugural Committe (AFIC) and the Joint Congressional Committe on Inaugural Ceremonies (JCCIC).

When and where is the Inauguration?

Answer: January 21, 2013. A musical prelude at 10:00 a.m. will kick off the inaugural ceremony at the U.S. Capitol, with the formal swearing-in to occur at noon.

The 57th Inaugural Parade will follow, moving down Pennsylvania Avenue from the Capitol to the White House.

For a more detailed schedule of inaugural and pre-inaugural events, please visit the Presidential Inaugural Committee (PIC) website.

How will access services be made available to the disabled seeking to watch and participate?


  • all entrances to the ceremony are accessible for the disabled
  • sign language interpreter will be located at designated locations
  • accessible restrooms

What sort of Security measures will be in place for the Inauguration?

Department of Homeland Security has designated the Inaugural as a National Special Security Event (NSSE). When an event is designated an NSSE, the Secret Service assumes its role as the lead federal agency for the design and implementation of the operational security plan. For more information please go to the Secret Service website.

Do I need a ticket to stand on the National Mall or on Pennsylvania Avenue for the Inaugural swearing-in or parade?

Answer: Most areas of the National Mall and along Pennsylvania Avenue do not require tickets. However, tickets are required in some designated areas and are distributed by different organizations.

For information about tickets to the swearing-in ceremony please visit the Joint Congressional Committee on Inaugural Ceremonies (JCCIC) website.

For information about tickets to other official inaugural events, including the parade route and balls, please visit the Presidential Inaugural Committee (PIC) website.

How early can I arrive?

Answer: Security screening entry points to the ticketed areas of the National Mall are currently scheduled to open at 7 a.m. (subject to change). Non-ticketed areas are generally open 24 hours a day, but individuals arriving on the 21st before 7 a.m. may be escorted out periodically due to security sweeps.

May I camp on the National Mall, the Ellipse, or in Lafayette Park? May I start a campfire in these locations?

Answer: No. According to federal regulations, camping is not allowed on the National Mall, the Ellipse, or within Lafayette Park. This includes the erection of tents, placement of sleeping bags, or starting of any campfires.

Anyone interested in winter camping can secure a site at one of the following National Park Service sites located in the greater Washington, D.C. area:

a) Greenbelt Park in suburban Maryland, or

b) Prince William Forest Park in Northern Virginia.

Contact Greenbelt Park, at 301-344-3948, or by visiting

Contact Prince William Forest Park, at 703-221-7181, or by visiting

Will roads and bridges be closed on January 21st?

Answer: Yes. Due to security restrictions in and around the National Mall for the Inauguration, all access roads into and around the National Mall will be tightly controlled. Normal roadway access to pickup and drop off passengers in and around the National Mall and in the surrounding area will be unavailable.

The District of Columbia is recommending using public transportation and traveling by foot on January 20th. Please refer to the D.C. Metrorail inaugural website for more information, and check the sites often for changes in the days and hours prior to the event.

What safety tips does the National Park Service suggest or recommend?


  • dress for weather conditions (umbrellas are prohibited in some areas)
  • bring water and snacks
  • be prepared to stand for long periods of time
  • note location of first aid stations
  • be aware that cell phones may not work

Will the National Park Service have first aid stations with trained staff for the visitors' needs?

Answer: Yes. The National Park Service, in partnership with the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, the District of Columbia Department of Health, and local EMS volunteer groups, will staff first aid tents throughout the event area. Each tent will be clearly identified by red signs and banners.

Will I go through screening or a search if I am in a public area on January 21st?

Answer: Everyone attending the events on January 21st should expect some level of screening from police and/or security personnel.

Who makes the call to cancel inaugural events in the case of inclement weather?

Answer: The Presidential Inaugural Committee will make this determination. The event rarely has been cancelled.

What food and beverage services will be available on the National Mall on January 21st?

Answer: The concessionaire that provides services for the National Mall and Memorial Parks, will provide multiple food and beverage venues on the National Mall, the Washington Monument grounds, and north of and south of the Lincoln Memorial.

How might I volunteer to help the National Park Service or the Presidential Inaugural Committee?

Answer: Please visit the National Park Service Inauguration Volunteer website for potential volunteer opportunities.

Will fencing be erected at any locations along the National Mall?

Answer: Several perimeters have been established to control vehicles and pedestrians and to provide for public safety.

Where can I find information on hotels or other lodging in the greater Washington, D.C. area?

Answer: For lodging information, contact the D.C. Chamber of Commerce at 866-324-7386 or visit

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