FAQs: What you need to know about the 2021 Inauguration Ceremony

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The U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C. (August 2019)

(ABC4) – The 2021 Presidential inauguration will be unlike any other presidential inauguration in United States history. 

For over 230 years, Americans have witnessed inauguration ceremonies for presidents and vice presidents. From the first Inauguration Ceremony of George Washington in 1789 to today, as the nation prepares for the 59th Inaugural Ceremonies for President of the United States, the honorable swearing-in of the president represents America’s future.

The United States 59th Inaugural Ceremonies for President-elect Joe Biden and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris will take place Wednesday, January 20, 2021, held on the west front of the United States Capitol. The ceremony will be managed by the Joint Congressional Committee of Inaugural Ceremonies, JCCIC. 

According to the JCCIC, since 1901 and in accordance with the 20th Amendment of the United States Constitution, the JCCIC is has been responsible for the planning and execution of the inaugural ceremonies for the President and Vice President elects.  

The 20th Amendment, ratified in 1933, set the dates at which federal government elected offices end, naming January 20 the official Inauguration Day. Before 1933, Inauguration Day was March 4. The amendment also defines who succeeds the president if the president dies.

The global coronavirus pandemic has severely altered many traditional inaugural activities. “Our top priority will be keeping people safe and healthy while honoring and resembling American inaugural traditions and engaging Americans across the country,” as stated on President-elect Joe Bidens Inagural website.

Though the president and vice president will still be sworn into office at the United States Capitol, the pandemic has changed many traditions. Health officials say vigorous COIVD-19 health and safety precautions will be in place, including social distancing and mask wearing. 

According to the JCCIC, Chairman Roy Blunt (R-MO) and Senator Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) notified the congressional community of the inauguration guidelines saying the continued rise in COVID-19 cases warrants limited attendance for the 59th Inaugural Ceremonies.  

“The election of President-elect Biden and Vice President-elect Harris was historic, and we know that many Americans would have wanted to attend the Inauguration in-person. At the same time, safety must be our top priority,” said Senator Amy Klobuchar. “While the pandemic has forced us to limit in-person attendance, it also brings opportunities to honor our democracy in innovative ways so that Americans across the country can experience Inauguration Day from home.”

In past inaugurations, the JCCIC would distribute around 200,000 tickets for the Nation’s Capitol’s official ceremonies. 

Inaugural parades, balls, and performances are also well known and loved traditions of past ceremonies. In efforts to protect the American people’s health and safety, this year’s activities will be limited and altered.

This year’s performances will include many well-known stars. Country music icon Garth Brooks announced he would help ring in the Biden presidency with a performance at the Washington, D.C. ceremony. “This is not a political statement. This is a statement of unity,” Brooks shared.

Brooks says except for Ronald Reagan, he has played for every president since Jimmy Carter.

Lady Gaga and Jennifer Lopez are also set to perform in-person. Wednesday night, Tom Hanks will host a TV special featuring Justin Timberlake, Bruce Springsteen, John Legend, and others.

Lady Gaga to sing anthem, J-Lo to perform at inauguration 

Inauguration organizers announced there will be a “virtual parade across America” following the swearing-in ceremony on Inauguration Day. 

President-elect Biden and his wife, Dr. Jill Biden, and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris and her husband, Doug Emhoff, will participate in a socially distanced Pass in Review on the Capitol’s opposite front side following the swearing-in, a military tradition where Biden will review the readiness of military troops.

Biden will also receive a traditional presidential escort with representatives from every military branch from 15th Street in Washington to the White House, organizers add. 

According to organizers, the virtual parade will “celebrate America’s heroes, highlight Americans from all walks of life in different states and regions, and reflect on the diversity, heritage, and resilience of the country as we begin a new American era.”

The parade will feature performances in communities across the county. “We are excited about the possibilities and opportunities this moment presents to allow all Americans to participate in our country’s sacred inaugural traditions,” said Presidential Inaugural Committee Executive Director Maju Varghese said in a statement.

You can watch special coverage of the 2021 Presidential Inaugural on ABC4.com.

Copyright 2021 Nexstar Media Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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Glen Mills

Chief Political Correspondent

 Glen is an award-winning, veteran journalist who delivers the news of the day every weeknight on ABC4 News at 5, 6, and 10. He also serves as Chief Political Correspondent and hosts Inside Utah Politics, which airs every Sunday morning at 8. He has won multiple awards for his reporting on political, military, and other issues. Before returning home to Utah, he spent more than 11 years developing his journalism skills in other states. He held various on-air and management positions at KPVI in Pocatello, Idaho, WGBA in Green Bay, Wisconsin, and KKCO in Grand Junction, Colorado during that time. Glen is a proud graduate of Jordan High School and the University of Utah where he majored in Mass Communication and minored in Business. He knew early on in life he wanted to be a journalist. Ask any of his friends and they will tell you as a kid he talked about one-day anchoring and reporting the news in Salt Lake City. Read More...

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