After a roaring rendition of the "Battle Hymn of the Republic" came James Taylor strumming his guitar and singing "America the Beautiful." Then an all-for-show swearing-in, replicating the official one Sunday.
Then Obama spoke, as all presidents must in one way or another, about "one nation and one people," healing words after a battering ram of an election and before the partisan struggles ahead. The address clocked in at 18 minutes, about the same as in 2009.
Sharon Davis of Suitland, Md., retired after 22 years in the Air Force, said it all made her proud beyond words. "There's a lot of energy here today," she said. "But it doesn't compare to last time, when it was just off the charts."
Spectators stood five to six deep along the broad sweep of Pennsylvania Avenue for the afternoon inaugural parade, featuring more than 8,800 military and civilian participants in floats, marching bands, dance troupes and more. Chinese American folk dancers from Delaware, a Kansas University trumpet ensemble, Boston College "Screaming Eagles," and Idaho firefighters contributed to the eclectic mix.
It took 90 minutes for Katasha Smart of Randallstown, Md., to get through security and into position for the parade after walking from near the Washington Monument, where video and audio malfunctions made Obama's address hard to see and hear.
"The energy level is lower," she said. "Before it was just so exciting - you could be walking for miles and miles and it didn't even feel like an effort."