The nation's capital, a bastion of power brokers known for back-room deal making over significant pieces of legislation, is turning Hollywood for President-elect Barack Obama's inauguration.
The bleachers and bunting are up on Pennsylvania Avenue and the inaugural souvenir shops peddling Obama's likeness on everything from breath mints (seriously) to posters and earrings have sprung up all over town. Retailers have constructed celebratory window displays to attract partygoers looking for that perfect inaugural gown or tuxedo -- just in case they don't already have one. With an estimated 1.5 million to 2 million people expected to flood Washington for the anointment of Obama, the city is abuzz in a way it hasn't been in decades as comparisons swarm up and down K Street to the aura generated by the inaugurations of John F. Kennedy and Bill Clinton.
Celebrities are filtering into town. Demi Moore and Ashton Kutcher, Tobey Maguire, Ashley Judd, Patricia Arquette, Maggie Gyllenhaal, Oprah and Spike Lee are just a few of the top names expected to attend some of the 100 official and unofficial balls and private parties. That doesn't even include a long list of performers lined up for a concert at the Lincoln Memorial on Sunday to kick off the inaugural celebration. Bruce Springsteen, Bono and U2, BeyoncÃ©, Stevie Wonder, Denzel Washington and Mary J. Blige will take the stage. Washingtonians are giddy over the hullabaloo, but one publicist summed up what is most on their minds: "We're thrilled they are here because Washington can be Hollywood for a night, but this town is about process, government and legislation, and that is serious business we want to get back to," said Rachel Pearson, who runs Pearson Associates and is organizing a series of inaugural-related events.