Julius Cherry, in town from Sacramento, Calif., brought his family to the foot of the Capitol to see the area where their official tickets will let them watch the public ceremonies on Monday.
"There were people who said they'd never vote for an African American president," the 58-year-old lawyer said. "Now they've voted for him twice, and he won the popular vote and the electoral vote. That says something about his policies and his team."
"And the country," added Cherry's wife, Donna.
Said Erika Goergen, from the Midwest and attending college locally: "It's amazing to be here right now."
Officials estimated that as many as 800,000 people will attend Monday's public ceremonies. That's more than live in the city, if far fewer than the 1.8 million who were at Obama's first inauguration in 2009.
The president made only a glancing reference to race as he spoke at an elementary school not far from the White House after he and first lady Michelle Obama stained a bookcase as part of a national service event organized by the inaugural committee.
"We think about not so much the inauguration, but we think about this is Dr. King's birthday we're going to be celebrating this weekend," the president said.
"He said everybody wants to be first, everybody wants to be a drum major. But if you're going to be a drum major, be a drum major for service, be a drum major for justice, be a drum major for looking out for other people," Obama said of the civil rights leader whose birthday is celebrated as a national holiday on Monday.
Because the date for inauguration set in the Constitution, Jan. 20, falls on a Sunday this year, Obama and Biden were to be sworn in for second terms in separate, private ceremonies on Sunday.
The public ceremonies are set for Monday, when Obama will take the oath of office at noon, then deliver an inaugural address before a large crowd and a national television audience in the millions.
On Saturday, politics seemed to edge ever so slightly into the background in the most political of cities.
Former first daughter Chelsea Clinton headlined a National Day of Service gathering under a tent on the National Mall, where she said she had been inspired by her grandmother, as well as her famous parents. She urged her audience to become part of a "chain of service" by helping the less fortunate.
Biden and his wife, Jill, spent time at an armory pitching in as volunteers packed 100,000 care kits for deployed members of the military, wounded warriors, veterans and first responders.
In the evening, Michelle Obama and daughters Sasha and Malia rocked out with hundreds of children from military families and Washington-area public schools at the Kids' Inaugural Concert.
The concert tradition started at the 2009 inauguration to honor the nation's military families. Saturday's event was hosted by Michelle Obama and Jill Biden and emceed by Nick Cannon.
Pop star Usher started off the event with his hit song "Yeah." Katy Perry, Mindless Behavior, and members of the cast of the Fox series Glee were also performing.