Crews Undo Weeks of Inaugural Planning in Wee Hours of Morning|
|Trash spills from a can near the
the inaugural parade route. (Newsline Photo by Kaukab Jhumra Smith)
By Kathleen Cullinan
Capital News Service
Friday, Jan. 21, 2005
WASHINGTON - When the inaugural balls officially ended at 1 a.m.
and revelers all around Washington headed for bed, crews that were
taking more than 100 tractor-trailers of sets and parade floats home
to Lanham were just getting into gear.
The massive cleanup is the less talked about side of staging an
inaugural, a task that has fallen to Maryland-based special events
company, Hargrove, every four years since Harry Truman took office in
Some of the Hargrove staff had already put in 40 hours straight of
intense inaugural work when the cleanup began early Friday.
"I kind of hit a wall at about 2 in the morning," said Marvin Bond,
a spokesman for Hargrove. By 11 a.m. Friday, he said, the company's
Lanham office was still quiet as workers trickled in.
Hargrove workers were not the only ones scrambling to clean up the
remains of the inaugural in the wee hours Friday.
At Union Station, where the Freedom Ball was held Thursday night,
train commuters filed in at 5 a.m. Friday just as the last party
equipment was loaded into trucks, said Michele Jacobs, who helped
organize that event.
City workers swept through after the parade and had the streets
cleaned by Friday, said D.C. Department of Public Works spokeswoman
The stands where the president sat at the Capitol will take about
three weeks to dismantle, said a spokeswoman with the Architect of the
Capitol. Porta-johns on the Mall were being stacked up for removal
For Hargrove, the breakdown undid the weeks of virtually nonstop
work needed to plan and stage nine balls, six parade floats, three
candlelit dinners and more than 20 other private events.
"It's really more like 30 jobs or 35 jobs," Bond said, adding that
the inaugural week is "planned out like a military campaign."
This year, the company had to design specially color-coded signs in
addition to the standard stages and floats. By the time the president
took the oath Thursday, Bond said, Hargrove's army of 200 employees
had been working around the clock for four days.
"Everybody does something they don't normally do" to help the
company prepare, Bond said, even if that means fluffing fabric. "It's
a unique experience."
But "you always have hitches," said Bond. The 36-foot eagle the
company built never even had a chance to soar: High winds damaged its
wings, leaving it unfit for flight down the parade route.
"In the end, it all comes together. You get the job done and it
looks great," Bond said.
Then comes the cleanup. Before the balls even opened, Hargrove
workers took apart the floats and trucked them under police escort
back to Lanham, a process that continued well after the balls were
Hargrove still has its hands full, even as the 2005 inauguration
becomes history. Last year, it worked on the opening of the World War
II memorial, on the G-8 summit in Savannah, Ga., and on Ronald
Reagan's funeral in a three-week span.
But nothing carries the lore of supplying an inaugural every four
years, Bond said.
"It becomes sort of bookends, like the chapters of the company's
history," he said.
2005 University of Maryland Philip Merrill College of
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