Some facts about U.S. presidential inaugurations

Mon Jan 21, 2013 4:42pm IST

U.S. President Barack Obama takes the official oath of office from Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts at the White House in Washington January 20, 2013. REUTERS/Brendan Smialowski/Pool

U.S. President Barack Obama takes the official oath of office from Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts at the White House in Washington January 20, 2013.

Credit: Reuters/Brendan Smialowski/Pool

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REUTERS - President Barack Obama will celebrate his public inauguration ceremony on Monday as he starts his second term in office. Here are some facts about U.S. presidential inaugurations.

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Obama is taking the oath of office twice.

His first, official, swearing-in took place in a short ceremony at the White House on Sunday, the constitutionally mandated date of January 20. Because that date fell this year on a weekend, when courts and public offices were closed, the grander, public ceremony at the U.S. Capitol will be held on Monday.

Obama was sworn in twice in 2009 because Chief Justice John Roberts fumbled one of the words in the public ceremony. The two men recited the oath again in the White House the following day, to dismiss any questions whether Obama had been properly sworn in.

On Monday, Obama will become the first president since Franklin D. Roosevelt to be sworn in four times. Roosevelt was elected president four times - in 1932, 1936, 1940 and 1944 - before the U.S. president was limited to two terms. Roosevelt died in office in 1945.

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Obama will place his left hand on two Bibles when he is being sworn in on Monday. As he did in 2009, he will use a Bible once owned by President Abraham Lincoln. This year Obama is adding another one: the "traveling Bible" used by civil-rights leader Martin Luther King Jr., who was assassinated in 1968.

First lady Michelle Obama will hold the Bibles, one on top of the other. Barack Obama will use a Bible from his wife's family when he is officially sworn in at the White House on Sunday. For his swearing-in ceremonies, Vice President Joe Biden will use a Bible with a Celtic cross on the front; the book has been in his family for 120 years.

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The high temperature in Washington on Monday is expected to be in the low 40s Fahrenheit, with mostly sunny skies. That's considerably warmer than the temperature for the coldest inauguration on record, for Ronald Reagan in 1985. Temperatures plunged to 7 Fahrenheit (-14 Celsius) with a wind chill of -20 F (-29 C), forcing Reagan to take the oath of office indoors, in the U.S. Capitol. The inaugural parade along Pennsylvania Avenue was canceled that year.

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In one of the most bizarre moments of an inauguration, actor and rodeo trick rider Montie Montana, dressed as a cowboy, rode up on a horse and lassoed President Dwight Eisenhower, who was watching his 1953 inaugural parade from the reviewing stand near the White House. Eisenhower stood with the rope around him, smiling awkwardly.

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Obama will ride in a presidential limousine bearing Washington, D.C., license plates that have the phrase "Taxation Without Representation." The motto is part of a long-running protest campaign by the city (population about 618,000). Despite paying federal taxes, Washington residents are represented in Congress only by a non-voting delegate in the U.S. House of Representatives. Until now, Obama's limousine has carried less politically sensitive Washington license plates, stamped only with the website address of the District of Columbia government.

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In 1961, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and city workers used flamethrowers and other equipment to clear heavy snow from John F. Kennedy's inaugural parade route.

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In a nod to the tough economic times, Obama's second inauguration will feature just two official balls, rather than the 10 that were held in 2009. Both will take place at the Washington Convention Center on Monday night.

More than 35,000 guests are expected to attend the bigger ball, where Alicia Keys, Stevie Wonder, Katy Perry and Mexican rock band Mana will perform. The other ball is for 4,000 military members, their families and veterans.

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It will not be an austere inauguration for some. Wealthy guests can stay four nights during inauguration weekend in the presidential suite of the Mandarin Oriental hotel for $60,000. The price includes 24-hour butler service and a private dining room.

Near the White House, the Hay-Adams hotel is renting its largest suite for $7,900 a night. Before the 2009 inauguration, Obama and his family occupied a wing of the hotel before he was able to move into his new residence at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue.

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Lyndon B. Johnson was the only president who took the oath of office on an airplane, on November 22, 1963. He was aboard Air Force One at Love Field in Dallas, about to fly back to Washington after President John F. Kennedy's assassination earlier that day. The casket containing Kennedy's body also was aboard the plane.

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Washington officials expect up to 800,000 people to attend the inauguration on Monday, less than the estimated 1.8 million who attended in 2009. (Reporting by Alistair Bell and Samuel P. Jacobs; Editing by Eric Beech and Paul Simao)

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