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Parade Spectators Claim Their Own Pieces of Inaugural History

By Kaukab Jhumra Smith, Mike Santa Rita and Desair Brown
Maryland Newsline
Friday, Jan. 21, 2005, 6 p.m.

WASHINGTON - They came by the thousands, inspired by personal passion or shrewd business sense. They came to support President Bush, to denounce him or simply to see him. They braved chilly temperatures, long lines that stretched for blocks and intrusive security searches.

Spectators at Bush’s second inaugural parade sometimes waited for hours to get past the security checkpoints dotting the parade route. Whether sporting fur coats or bearing protest signs, all claimed their own bit of history.


Jason Everrett Haywood / Newsline photo by Desair Brown
Jason Everrett Haywood (Newsline photo by Desair Brown)
Jason Everrett Haywood, 29, had been yelling “twenty-five cents or four for a dollar,” since 8 a.m. as he hawked the special inaugural edition of The Washington Times on the corner of 7th and D streets.

He admitted it’s not much of a deal, but said it draws people’s attention away from the competition -- an anti-Bush T-shirt vendor.

“I’ve done pretty well,” the Glenarden, Md., resident said, ready to leave by 2 p.m.

Haywood, who also performs some data entry and and customer distribution duties for the paper, said he isn't pro-Bush, "but he’s in there now, so you got to pray for him.”


Ben Connors / Newsline photo by Mike Santa Rita
Ben Connors (Newsline photo by Mike Santa Rita)

Ben Connors, 21, a student at American University in Washington, D.C., was laden down with cameras and bags of photographic equipment as he trudged through the viewing area at 14th Street and Pennsylvania Avenue. Connors was covering the event for his internship at washingtonpost.com and was moving cameras and equipment back and forth to other photographers.

“I’m down here mostly as a runner,” he said, “but I wanted to get some other stuff. I’m doing stills as well.”

Connors said he trekked over from American University to spend the night before the inauguration at a friend’s place on the campus of  The George Washington University. He was out of bed at 7 a.m. and down at the parade route at about 7:20 a.m., where he planned to spend the entire day.

“I’ll stay as long as I’m getting good photo[s],” he said.


Alan Vazquez / Newsline photo by Kaukab Jhumra Smith
Alan Vazquez  (Newsline photo by Kaukab Jhumra Smith)

Law student Alan Vazquez, 23, passed through the security checkpoint on 13th and E streets a little after 11 a.m. Armed with binoculars and dressed to wait out the three chilly hours before the parade was to begin, Vazquez said he hoped to make his way toward the Capitol to catch a glimpse of the president as he was sworn in.

Originally from Ft. Lauderdale, Fla., Vazquez said, “You don’t get many opportunities to see something like this.”

A student of international law at American University, Vazquez said he voted for President Bush but would have come to see the inauguration no matter who won.

“I felt John Kerry’s only platform was that he wasn’t Bush,” he said.

But the Bethesda resident didn’t think he’d hear concrete plans from the president this day.

“I don’t expect to hear much about what’s going to happen in the next four years,” he said.


Tim Andrew Miller/ Newsline photo by Desair Brown
Tim Andrew Miller (Photo by Desair Brown)
Tim Andrew Miller, 31, a records coordinator for the law firm Thelen Reid and Priest, shivered in his suit while holding a sign for the firm’s inaugural celebration.

“Some people have been forgetting their invitations, so I came out here to direct them to our office” on Pennsylvania Avenue, Miller said.

Several bystanders stuck in slow-moving security checkpoints along the parade route asked Miller how to get in to the firm's celebration.

“Sorry, it’s invite only,” he told them. A Baltimore resident, Miller said he is hardly a Bush supporter, but braved the commute to help out his office.

“This is a big thing for the firm, so I agreed to help out,” he said. “Every four years we invite all our clients, the firm employees and family.”


Daniel Greenberg / Newsline photo by Mike Santa Rita
Daniel Greenberg (Photo by Mike Santa Rita)

Fiction writer Daniel Greenberg, 43, of Washington, D.C., said the U.S. invasion of Iraq, the presidency of George W. Bush, and U.S. atrocities at Abu Ghraib brought him out to brave the weather and the crowds Thursday, near the end of the parade route at 14th Street and Pennsylvania Avenue.

He held a placard, “God Forgive U.S.,” which made explicit references to the scandal at Abu Ghraib, where some U.S. soldiers have been accused of abusing Iraqi prisoners.

“That’s a colossal stain on our souls as Americans,” he said, “because that was not done by a few troops.”


Michael Hayward / Newsline photo by Mike Santa Rita
Michael Hayward (Photo by Mike Santa Rita)

Lounging on a barricade next to Greenberg was Michael Hayward, 46, of  Chesapeake Beach, Md. Distinctly less political than Greenberg, Hayward said his views on the Bush administration were neither here nor there.

“It’s got its good points and its bad points,” he said.

Hayward said he is self-employed in tree servicing -- trimming trees and cutting them down when necessary.

But he came out to the parade route  to view a presidency in the making.

“I wanted to be a part of history, and I’ve never been to one before,” he said. “That way I can say I’ve been to one.

"This only happens once every four years. Plus, my girlfriend works right up the street!”


Colin DiGarbo / Newsline photo by Kaukab Jhumra Smith
Colin DiGarbo (Newsline photo by Kaukab Jhumra Smith)

He greets visitors at an elite art gallery for a living, but Colin DiGarbo, 24, was at the inaugural parade to give President Bush a less-than-warm welcome to his second term.

The D.C. resident wanted to “add to the opposition force of George W. Bush,” he said, something he intended to do “by making my voice known and by being a loudmouth every opportunity I have, and by getting a positive dialogue going as well.”

But DiGarbo admitted he was having a hard time finding a balance between those goals.

He said he was particularly troubled by the administration’s lack of understanding of the nuances of diplomacy.

Surrounded by friends from his home state of Pennsylvania and sporting an anti-‘W’ button on his coat, DiGarbo said he planned to turn his back on the presidential motorcade as it went by.


Helen Watson of 
          Rockville takes a picture of son Rick, 14. / Newsline photo by Kaukab Jhumra Smith
Helen Watson takes a photo of her son. (Newsline photo by Kaukab Jhumra Smith)

Her son griped about reaching school at 8:30 a.m. on a morning when most kids his age were sleeping in, but Helen Watson of Rockville assured Rick, 14, that it was an honor.

Rick was to march in the inaugural parade with his junior ROTC classmates from D.C.’s St. John’s College High School.

Watson took the day off from her job selling software at IBM to make sure she got a good look at her son marching by in his green cadet uniform.

So she arrived at a security checkpoint at 11:30 a.m., standing for more than four and a half hours by the parade route. Would she have taken the trouble to come downtown for the festivities if Rick had not been marching in the parade?

“Probably not,” she said, laughing.

Watson doesn’t think inaugurations are a time for politics. “I think you just come and go because of the people,” she said. “It doesn’t really matter” with whom you agree and disagree, she said. She said she even enjoyed her long wait, talking to spectators from Chicago and other cities. “It’s kind of neat. There are people here from all over,” she said.

But she did take care to stay away from the “obnoxious” protesters, Watson said. “They were like rowdy children, unsupervised kids,” she said.


Trinese Beasley / Newsline photo by Kaukab Jhumra Smith
Trinese Beasley (Newsline photo by Kaukab Jhumra Smith)

Trinese Beasley, 22, stood by a lingerie shop on E Street with a crude hand-lettered sign taped to her red jacket. The D.C. resident, who works in dietary services at a local hospital, stood apart from the long queue of would-be parade spectators. “I’m showing my sign,” she said, pointing.

“God Help Us,” it read.

Beasley said she wanted to make a statement because she has two family members serving in Iraq. “I’m trying to get my soldiers home,” she said.

She said she hoped to show the president that he’s making a mistake. “He’s doing nothing but causing pain, confusion and causing more war,” Beasley said.

Her friend, Damian Bond, 21, chimed in with his disapproval of the fur coats he saw among parade spectators.

“I’m an animal lover,” he explained.


Mabjaia Oswald / Newsline photo by Mike Santa Rita
Mabjaia Oswald (Newsline photo by Mike Santa Rita)

Mabjaia Oswald, 27, an auto mechanic from Washington, D.C., puts his allegiances simply. “I am with Bush.”

Arriving shortly after 11 a.m. at the intersection of Pennsylvania Avenue and 14th Street, Oswald says that he had spent the morning trolling different viewing spots for the presidential motorcade and parade.

Anticipating the crowds that would come later, he said, “It’s going to be real full.

“I just want to see this inauguration and see if it will be like the last time,” Oswald said. Despite the cold weather, he said, this year he planned to stay longer than he did four years ago.

“Last time [I stayed] just a little bit, and I had to go home,” he said.


Jason Louk (right) appeals for donations for his organization's newspaper, Street Sense. / Newsline photo by Kaukab Jhumra Smith
Jason Louk (right) peddles his paper. (Newsline photo by Kaukab Jhumra Smith)

While others cursed the long lines snaking to the security checkpoint on 12th and E, Jason Louk, 26, found a captive audience in the hundreds of people shivering in the cold.

Louk, who said he is homeless, sells newspapers for Street Sense, a D.C. organization for the homeless. He said he usually sleeps on the streets, but has been spending nights at a local shelter in the recent cold.

A cigarette grasped in one hand and a photo ID strung to his jacket, Louk systematically moved down the line asking people to buy a copy of the organization’s newspaper for a dollar. He keeps 70 cents for each paper sold.

A little after 1 p.m., Louk had only one problem. He had no copies left to sell, and could only lend his remaining wrinkled copy for a donor to read for a while. He’d made a little more than $30 so far; he still hoped to hit $100 by the end of the day by asking for contributions.

Louk said he does not like to associate himself with any political party. “I’m a Christian,” he said. He voted for Bush in the last election, he said, for the simple reason that a country should not change its president in the middle of a war.

“It makes your country look weak,” he said. “It’s as simple as that…even if John Kerry would have made a better president.”

Louk wasn’t particularly impressed by the protesters on the street next to the queue.

“I think they like showing off,” he said. “It doesn’t matter who’s the president, people are going to complain about him.”


Copyright © 2005 University of Maryland Philip Merrill College of Journalism

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