January 25, 2013

Inaugural Festivities

The Capitol Building at dawn is one of the most beautiful buildings I have seen, even when the lawn is overrun by people arriving early for President Barack Obama’s second Inauguration.

The Capitol Building at dawn in Washington, D.C.


Tickets to President Obama's Presidential Inauguration and tickets to the Inaugural BallMy family went down to the inauguration thanks to a generous donation from Peter Jacoby ’81. We entered into a contest for Lafayette students to guess the election results, and through research and statistics, we were able to predict many of the winners and win the contest.



Helen Hutchens and her brother stand with the Capitol Building in the background in Washington, D.C.If you’re curious, more information about how we got here can be found in an article about the contest on the Lafayette College Website.

I live in Lancaster County, PA, so my family got up early to drive down to Washington D.C. to catch the Metro to go to the Capitol to wait in the cold stands to see the president. The seats that Mr. Jacoby got for us were very good, and we were able to actually see the president, unlike half a million people who were out on the Mall.




Now I’d like to turn this over to my little brother Mark, since this is his day.

We arrived at the Capitol only a little after seven o’clock. That meant that we had to wait about four hours before the ceremony actually started. It was fun to see all of the politicians entering the stage. I especially enjoyed that, even though they were on the stage, they were still using their smartphones to take pictures. 

President Obama delivers his inaugural address

President Obama delivering his inaugural address

I wondered when the Clintons would enter, with the President’s cabinet or with the former presidents. It looked like Bill being a former president trumped Hillary being a current Secretary of State.

By the time the President came out, it was impossible to see the stage entrance. I liked that the president spent time on gay rights and climate change. It was nice to hear some specifics. As a side note, I used to not care about teleprompters, but now I do.

Now back to Helen.


My favorite part about the inauguration was the poem “One Today” by the poet Richard Blanco. He did a beautiful job of summing up my feeling about America. It does not matter which party you are in or where you live. We are all Americans. I can only hope that this country can create unity as everyone prayed for at the inauguration.


Helen Hutchens and her younger brother, MarkIn the evening, we got all suited up and headed off to the official civilian Inaugural Ball. It was very chilly out. We got bundled up and took the Metro in from University of Maryland to near the Convention Center in the center of the city.

The last time I wore my prom dress, it was warm and the trees were decked with their spring flowers. Now we walked the streets of D.C. bundled up in down jackets and still freezing.





Katy Perry performs her hit song "Firework" at the Inaugural BallOnce we made it through security and checked our coats, we entered the ballroom. Right in front of us, we saw Katy Perry. She did a great job of performing, and it was cool to see her from only 40 feet from the stage. She sang “Firework” and themed it for the president as many other artists did throughout the night.

Other big names who we saw were Smokey Robinson, Alicia Keys, a few members of the cast of Glee, Jennifer Hudson, and Jamie Foxx.

Mark Hutchens stands in front of the crowd at the Inaugural Ball








Later on in the evening, the Obamas and the Bidens came and each did a dance. I pitied them because they were the only ones dancing in a room of thousands. The ball was primarily a “photo factory” to quote Mark, but it was still a cool experience.

Helen Hutchens stands with Peter Jacoby '81

We also met up with Peter Jacoby ’81, our sponsor. Mark and I would like to thank him for a wonderful experience and a day that we will never forget. I am proud to be a member of the Lafayette Community where alumni are so generous and willing to give students experiences to open their eyes to the world.


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  1. Congratulations Helen on winning the election forecasting contest, and thank you for sharing your observations on the 2013 inaugural events. And, thanks to Peter Jacoby for making this special opportunity possible! Best regards, Mark Crain

    says W.M. Crain
    January 25, 2013 at 7:45 pm
  2. Thank you for organizing the contest! It was a real treat.

    says Helen
    January 25, 2013 at 7:47 pm

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