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Crowds Throng to Mall, Ready to Witness History

Posted at: 01/21/2013 9:57 AM

WASHINGTON (AP) - A heavy and steady stream of people is flooding the National Mall as the sun rises Monday, but there isn't the same early morning crush of humanity there was at this time four years ago for President Barack Obama's first inauguration.

With the main event hours away, people are having their pictures taken with a flag-draped Capitol building in the background.

Betsy Seeber of Doylestown, Pa.,, says, "I'm not a crowd person, and I was pretty astounded when they estimated there would only be 800,000."

It's cool and there's a steady breeze. Hand-warmers are being sold by street vendors three for five dollars. In 2009, when temperatures were in the 20s, vendors got $5 for each one.

Janice Boyd of Bentonville, Ark., says, "I'm cold, but we came prepared."

Inauguration-goers line up for security screenings

Security checkpoints have opened in downtown Washington as thousands of spectators wait in line for access to see President Barack Obama on inauguration day.

Spectators heading to Monday's events are facing tight security. Screening lines in some places stretched a block.

The Secret Service, the lead law enforcement agency for the event, says there are so far no problems to report.

Officials are expecting for far smaller crowds than the record-breaking turnout of 2009. A spokesman for the Metro transit system says 113,000 riders had boarded trains as of 8 a.m. Officials also hope more and earlier signs, and additional metal detectors, will ease congestion.

A few dozen protesters were gathered along the parade route on Pennsylvania Avenue invoking the late civil rights leader Martin Luther King's legacy and urging jobs, not war.

Some who didn't support Obama among those gathered for inauguration

She describes herself as "mostly Republican" -- but Vicki Lyons of Colorado says being in Washington for today's inauguration is "like standing in the middle of history."

Although she didn't vote for President Barack Obama, Lyons says, "No matter who the president is, everybody needs to do this at least once."

A North Carolina woman has brought her young daughter to the inauguration, just as she did four years ago. Kenya Strong says she wants her daughter Ty to know that "her potential is endless."

Hours before Monday's pageantry, people on foot spilled out of Metro stations near the White House and streamed toward festivities, official vehicles sealed off intersections and commuters packed coffee shops, among the few businesses open on the birthday of Martin Luther King Jr.

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