"There was euphoria the first time. There were so many firsts. [Now] there are so many people like me who were here the last time and who are here again," explained Helen Higginbotham, as she made her way through the streets of D.C. on Sunday to pick up tickets to the two inaugural balls she plans to attend.
"You can never get the nuances of the first time again," added Higginbotham, who volunteered for the Obama campaign in Florida, a key battleground state. "The newness is not here for me. I'm not a neophyte as much. Still, it's exciting because it's history in the making. A lot of people didn't think this day would come."
On Sunday, those who weren't already in the nation's capital, were making their way to Washington, where an estimated 800,000 plan to crowd onto the National Mall. When I caught up with him, Devon Allen, a marketing/communications consultant who lives in Roxborough, was rushing out to buy two air mattresses from Dick's Sporting Goods. His plan was to be on the road by 3 p.m. so he could get as close as he could to the president by 8 a.m.
"For my nephews, I want it to be a history lesson," explained Allen, 45. "Also for my cousin, he wants it to be a history lesson for his son to see that he can achieve as an African-American male in society, that he can become something."
Even though none of her friends would agree to go with her, Deidre McGee, a Philadelphia transplant now living in suburban Maryland, planned to be out on the Mall early to get into position.
"They showed the 2009 inauguration on TV and I still got choked up," said McGee, 44, a federal employee who also will attend one of the many unofficial inaugural balls taking place Monday night. "It's still an exciting time even though there's not as much pomp and circumstance as there was in 2009."
The Obama Administration may have decreased the number of official inaugural balls to just two (there were roughly 10 in 2009), but Monday's lineup remains impressive. James Taylor is on tap to sing "America the Beautiful" after Vice President Joe Biden is sworn in.
Obama probably knows the oath by heart since he's taken it three times already. In 2009, he got a do-over after Chief Justice John Roberts flubbed his lines. Then, the president took the oath in a private ceremony Sunday as mandated by the U.S. Constitution.
After the president's inaugural address, "American Idol" winner Kelly Clarkson will perform "My Country 'Tis of Thee." The swearing-in concludes with an appearance by pop star Beyonce, who'll sing the national anthem.
Then, they're off to the inaugural lunch, an invitation-only affair featuring lobster with New England clam-chowder sauce and grilled bison with red-potato horseradish cake and wild huckleberry reduction. Dessert is apple pie, of course, but with sour-cream ice cream, cheese and honey. The menu might sound caloric, but the president and first lady, no doubt, will take the advice of Michelle's healthy "Let's Move" iniative and once again walk part of the parade route.
I can see it now, Obama dashing in a dark suit and Michelle, with her newly cut bangs blowing in the breeze. Parade goers are going to go nuts.