How to Safely Celebrate the Biden-Harris Inauguration in DC

Crack an Amtrak Joe Pilsner or Madame Veep IPA.

The 2021 presidential inauguration of Joe Biden and Kamala Harris will take place on Wednesday, January 20, starting at 12 pm eastern time, following Biden’s train journey from his home in Wilmington, Delaware to the nation’s capitol—a trip the President-Elect took daily for 36 years while he was a U.S. senator. 

Biden will then take his oath of office on the West Front of the U.S. Capitol, the same building that just last week was attacked by a mob of Trump supporters, leaving five dead. Thus, in the interest of public safety, the Biden Inaugural Committee has not only scaled back the day’s events, but actively urged Americans to watch the inauguration festivities from home rather than risk journeying to Washington. 

For those already inside the city, public access to the Capitol grounds will not be available during the ceremony, and The National Parks Service has said that they would close the Washington Monument to tours through January 24 due to “credible threats to visitors and park resources.” Keep in mind that roads, parking areas, and bathrooms near the National Mall might also be closed, and that DC Mayor Muriel Bowser has extended the public emergency she declared last Wednesday for an extra 15 days to ensure the safety of all Washingtonians.

“Our goals right now are to encourage Americans to participate virtually and to protect the District of Columbia from a repeat of the violent insurrection experienced at the Capitol and its grounds on January 6,” Bowser said during a news conference on Monday.

It helps a bit that House Majority Whip James Clyburn, who chairs the inaugural committee, said last week that a whopping 80 percent of the festivities that would normally take place in Washington surrounding an inauguration would actually be taking place virtually this year, giving Americans the perfect opportunity to stay safe while they witness history in the making.


How to watch and schedule of events

To watch the inauguration events simply flick on any major news network such as ABC, NBC, CBS, Fox, PBS, Telemundo, Univision, CNN, and MSNBC. Pre-inauguration festivities are expected to begin at 9:30 am eastern time, while Biden and Harris are scheduled to be sworn in at noon. 

For those without cable or a television, you can also tune in via the above networks’ YouTube channels, or on the official White House website. Livestreaming from your television sans cable is also possible if you own a device like the Amazon Fire TV, Android TV, Apple TV, Roku, or Xbox One. Following Biden’s speech, a wreath laying ceremony and “Pass in Review,” a virtual parade will replace what traditionally would have been thousands of Americans gathering on the National Mall for in-person festivities. 

Inaugural planners have said that the parade will be a celebration of America’s heroes, highlighting Americans from all walks of life in every region of the country. It’s a fitting celebration to match Biden’s chosen theme of “America United,” which his inaugural committee has said “reflects the beginning of a new national journey that restores the soul of America, brings the country together, and creates a path to a brighter future.”

Jack Rose Dining Saloon
Jack Rose Dining Saloon

Celebrate from home with inauguration specials

Just because you can’t attend the presidential inauguration in-person this year doesn’t make the occasion any less a cause for celebration. Instead, don your best red, white, and blue loungewear and nestle up on the couch with housemates and local inauguration specials, such as Atlas Brew Works presidential new beers. 

The solar-powered craft brewery has just rolled out their brand new Amtrak Joe Pilsner and Madam Veep’s IPA ahead of the festivities, a limited edition cheers to the president-elect and vice president. The two celebratory beers are made in collaboration with Orders are available for pickup at Atlas Half Street Brewery & Tap Room starting January 16.

Not a beer person? Whiskey and cocktail bar Jack Rose Dining Saloon in Adams Morgan is also lifting a glass to the occasion with a special Inauguration cocktail kit-for-two. Available to-go, the kit is being called Jack Rose’s A Boozy New Deal and features a four-course cocktail tasting showcasing American-made spirits. Order via Tock now through the 20th.

Those ready to order some food in for the festivities can get lunch easily sorted with Immigrant Food’s new bowl launching on the 14th called Madame VP’s Heritage Bowl. An ode to the soon-to-be vice president Kamala Harris, the dish pays homage to both Harris’ Jamaican and Indian cultural backgrounds with flavorful coconut-milk curried chicken, chickpeas, potatoes, pineapples, plantains, and a hint of spicy peppers served over turmeric rice and baby spinach.

Sandwich lovers can get their fix from Capitol Hill’s Fight Club, which is also rolling out Inauguration food and drink specials from January 13-20 that will be available for patio service, carry out, and delivery. Brand new sandwich specials are inspired by President- and Vice President-elects’ go-to sandwiches.

The Biden’s Bobbie is loaded with turkey, sausage stuffing, potato mayo and cranberry sauce on a hoagie roll, and the PED of JOE is a chocolate-peanut butter ice cream sandwich that plays on Biden’s love of the frozen confection. Harris, who schooled a fellow senator in the art of making a “mean tuna melt” last year, gets her own Fight Club version of the classic sandwich featuring tuna salad, spicy chips, American cheese, and a hard-boiled egg on country white bread.

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Austa Somvichian-Clausen is a freelance food and travel writer, as well as a staff writer for The Hill where she covers the topics of diversity and equality. Follow her on Instagram.