January 20th, 2009
07:45 PM ET

Cinderella never faced this at HER ball!

Crowds at the inaugural parade cheer and snap photos of President Obama on Tuesday.

Crowds at the inaugural parade cheer and snap photos of President Obama on Tuesday.

Joe Johns | Bio
CNN Correspondent

Ok, it's participatory history. But is it fun?

One of the things many people don't realize about inaugurations is that, while historic and glamorous, they are also amazing ordeals.

The inauguration gauntlet begins with the schlepp to the swearing in ceremony. Today was incredible. My producer Justine Redman and I walked over a mile around and through literally countless security checkpoints to get to our appointed location to listen to the speech.

The police could not tell us where to go or how to get from point A to point B. One problem was, there were two separate and almost mutually exclusive events, which happened to be quite close to each other.

Wthen we had to cross the parade route - before the parade started - to get to the Mall. And the security plans changed along the way.

Then there is the weather. Generally it's freezing cold–some of the worst weather of the year comes around inauguration time. My ears rang for hours when I left the Mall today.
My face was frozen.

Then there is the parade itself. We decided to skip that simply because we were assigned to cover the President's Home States Ball. And had to get ready. I dressed up in the men's bathroom at work.

So here is the part that really bursts the glamor bubble for a lot of people who visualize an inaugural ball as a glass slipper event. You buy that coveted ticket and who knows how much you paid.

You run around buy a new tux or a ball gown, maybe you hit the tanning salon (ok, I confess I never did that) maybe you buy or rent some really expensive and fancy jewelry. (Never did that either.)

Parking for the ball is a nightmare. The walk to the building is a nightmare, too, especially for women in heels because unless you are a true VIP it can be a really long walk.

So once you get to the building where the ball is being held you have to stand in a long line to go through security (in the cold). How long depends. A lot of people think it's cool to be fashionably late. Bad idea.

Ok, so say you can take it long enough to clear security. Before you actually get to the ball you have to check your coat. That can take forever because so many people have so many nice coats and they really don't want to lose them at a party.

Ok, imagine you make it this far. Now it's time for the reward, right? Now imagine your surprise when after all this you walk through the door to discover a cash bar where you have to pay for drinks. Yup, tickets for drinks at the Obama ball are 3 dollars apiece. But wait, you have to have three tickets to get a glass of wine. Yup, nine bucks.

But if you want cognac or champagne, it's 4 tickets. 12 bucks.

Don't worry, Visa, Mastercard, Amex and Discover are all accepted. Who cares though, right? It's the inaugural ball!

And now here's this nice touch. When you go to get your drink it's served in a plastic cup!

Still the main thing is getting to spend a little time with the new President. Do they know what you went through to get there? Plus you're out of the cold so it's all good. Just pony up 24 bucks for a couple glasses of champagne, and you'll be feeling no pain anymore.

Filed under: Barack Obama • Inauguration • Joe Johns • Raw Politics
soundoff (6 Responses)
  1. PA Canada

    John thanks for the great insight! It was So Great I have no desire to be a reporter! I sat back sipping tea, in my fav chair, all cozy and warm while CNN brought this historic moment into my Family Room! And no Extra Expenses! CNN Luv Ya All 🙂

    January 21, 2009 at 9:39 am |
  2. Judy

    now i can only dream i were a VIP!

    January 21, 2009 at 7:43 am |
  3. KIm

    The Kids looked great in Crew ! Joe Biden needs to straighten his bow tie. The off the shoulder cut was lovely and they make a beautiful couple dancing. She can't dance in that dress ! Drop the lines and cut the puff off her hips.The strap is to thick and cuts her beautiful shoulders off. The gold tones today ? Looked like they were matching her to the room decor. She's tall ,beautiful and get the balance of cut to her figure and the white tone ? Okay,it matched Obama's bow tie and his was straight ! Love the fact she selected a young designer but didn't think the dress did a thing for her figure. Put her in warm,rich tones of color for all the pictures. The ear rings we're fantastic ! Sorry,no on that dress ! The dress not balanced to her figure !

    January 20, 2009 at 11:50 pm |
  4. Hannah

    Funny...and not so. I can vividly see ,and feel the scene,as you write it..
    Have fun- you ARE there !

    January 20, 2009 at 11:06 pm |
  5. Annie Kate

    I hope you thawed out and at least got to see the new President. I think watching everything on the tv is a lot less tiring and a lot warmer. You may miss the interpersonal contacts but at least there is no line and no horrible high heels to wear.

    January 20, 2009 at 8:54 pm |
  6. Terry from Tacoma

    I would do the walk to get into the ball! 🙂

    January 20, 2009 at 8:14 pm |