President-elect Joe Biden and Vice-President-elect Kamala Harris were jointly named Time Magazine’s 2020 Person of the Year.
WASHINGTON – President-elect Joe Biden will not hold a traditional inaugural parade on Pennsylvania Avenue after taking his oath of office, but he will receive a presidential escort to the White House.
Biden and arriving first lady Jill Biden will skip the traditional opening parade on January 20, the Presidential Inaugural Committee announced on Sunday.
Instead, after being sworn in on the Western Front of the Capitol, the Bidens will be escorted from 15th Street to the White House by the President. The escort will include representatives from all branches of the military, including the US Army Band, an Honor Guard from the Joint Service and the Commander-in-Chief, and the Fife and Drum Corps of the 3rd US Infantry “The Old Guard”.
Planners have looked for ways to continue many inaugural traditions while protecting the health and safety of Americans amid the coronavirus pandemic.
Replacing the traditional opening parade with a presidential escort will allow Americans and the world to see the new first family arrive at the White House without attracting the large crowds that typically gather along Pennsylvania Avenue for the opening parade, the committee said .
“This is an exciting opportunity to work with Americans across the country to demonstrate the unwavering commitment of President-Elect Biden and Vice-President-Elect (Kamala) Harris to a diverse, inclusive, and unified nation,” said Tony Allen, executive director of the inaugural committee Officer. “There are many great traditions at the inauguration, and we plan to honor them by highlighting more people in our nation than ever before while keeping everyone safe.”
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The inauguration of President-Elect Joe Biden will be a scaled-down event. (Photo: Susan Walsh / AP)
The opening parade doesn’t go away entirely.
A “virtual parade” will be televised and will show performances in communities across the country. The parade will celebrate America’s heroes, highlight Americans from all walks of life in different states and regions, and reflect the country’s diversity, heritage, and resilience, according to the opening planners.
Participants in the virtual parade will be announced in the coming weeks, but the opening committee said the program will include musical performances, local bands, poets, dance troupes and others who pay homage to America’s heroes on the front lines of the pandemic.
“This innovative program will keep people safe and explore new avenues to reach Americans across the country – from rural cities to younger and older Americans to everyone and everywhere in between,” said Maju Varghese, the committee’s executive director.
Participants will practice social distancing and strict health and safety protocols will be put in place, the inaugural committee said.
The 59th opening celebrations will be smaller than in previous years due to the health risks posed by COVID-19. Biden and Harris will continue to take the oath of office on the Western Front of the Capitol, and Biden will deliver an inaugural address setting out his vision to fight the virus, rebuild and bring the country together.
Opening planners are calling on Americans not to travel to Washington for the celebrations, but to attend the celebration virtually.
Tickets for the ceremony are limited. In the past, members of Congress have received around 200,000 tickets to distribute to their constituents. This year they are limited to tickets for themselves and one guest.
Rep. James Clyburn, co-chair of the Biden opening committee, said he expected a few thousand people to be in attendance. The platform for the swearing-in ceremony has already been set up.
“We’re going to make sure people attend in a way that makes them part of the event, but keeps them safe and healthy and comfortable,” he said, noting the usually “freezing” weather.
“We’re going to make it a part of it, but you can stay warm in your pajamas at home and enjoy it,” he said.
After the swearing in, Biden, Harris and their spouses will attend a pass-in-review ceremony on the Capitol Eastern Front with members of the military.
Passing in reviews is a longstanding military tradition that reflects the peaceful transfer of power to a new commander in chief. The new president, who will be received by the commander of the Joint Task Force-National Capital Region, will review the readiness of the military.
Clyburn, who attended Richard Prince’s Journal-isms Roundtable on Sunday, said he didn’t expect President Donald Trump to show up at the inauguration.
“That would be a surprise to me if he participated,” he said. “It would be a pleasant surprise – if he didn’t.”
Michael Collins reports on the White House. Reach out to him on Twitter @mcollinsNEWS.
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President-elect Joe Biden and new first lady Jill Biden will skip the traditional opening parade on Jan. 20, Biden’s opening committee says. (Photo: Andrew Harnik / AP)
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