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From someone who has been to an inauguration, expect crowds everywhere

By Steve Huffman
shuffman@salisburypost.com
Emily Stirewalt has a bit of advice for anyone considering traveling to Washington, D.C. in a couple of weeks for Barack Obama’s inauguration.
Don’t do it!
“This is just a warning to people,” Stirewalt said. “I know it’s a special time, I just wouldn’t want to do it.”
Stirewalt, 74, said she based her words on her experiences in 1989 when she and her husband, W.L., traveled to Washington for the inauguration of President Herbert Walker Bush.
The crowds, Stirewalt said, were horrendous, and they were probably nothing compared with the hordes expected for Obama’s inauguration.
Predictions are that anywhere from 3 million to 5 million visitors will make a pilgrimage to Washington for that grand event.
Stirewalt said when she and her husband traveled to Washington, they stayed with their daughter, Lois S. O’Connor, who lives there.
They’d gotten tickets from Rep. Bill Hefner to enter the Capital grounds to view the inauguration.
What she wound up seeing, said Stirewalt, who stands only 5-foot-2, was the back of a lot of heads.
“The only time I saw anything was when I jumped,” she said. “It was wall-to-wall humanity.”
Stirewalt said the only celebrity she remembers seeing at the day’s festivities was Donald Trump.
“And they said I saw the president, but if I did, I don’t remember it,” she said.
Stirewalt was a long-time teacher in the Rowan-Salisbury School System, spending most of her career at North Rowan Middle.
Her husband, who died of a heart attack two years after their visit to Washington, was also a teacher, employed at Wiley Elementary.
Stirewalt said the biggest rush of humanity took place once the inauguration was over. As the masses made their way toward the metro, Stirewalt found herself picked up and carried. “I was being pushed along and my feet didn’t even touch the ground,” she said.
Stirewalt remembers the absence of portable toilets during that visit, and said most of the buildings had locked doors, meaning there were no restrooms available for the masses.
She said she’s heard that this year’s inauguration is bound to be worse, with even garbage cans removed from the Washington streets.
“My suggestion is, don’t go,” Stirewalt said. “But if you must go, wear comfortable boots and read the weather report. Carry some snacks. Be prepared for anything that comes along.”

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