Inauguration Ends, Clean-Up Begins
Now that Obama's inauguration is history(literally), the clean-up begins. Whenever I see a massively-attended event on TV, I think back on the ones I've attended, and remember looking down to see all the paper cups, food wrappers, and hastily-discarded souvenirs. What goes into cleaning up the mess? What happens to all that memorabilia? The short answers are, "A lot", and "not much".
The cleanup is underway in Washington, D.C. as crews dismantle the audio and video equipment and pick up the stuff that people dropped. Meanwhile, the overall tab has been calculated: expensive, but, considering how glitzy it all was, not as expensive as George W. Bush's last inauguration.
As you may have already guessed, the most expensive element of the inaugural event is the one you don't really see: security. Also, the Presidential Inaugural Committee spent nearly three quarters of a million dollars to keep the Smithsonian open so that the public could use its toilets. I'm not making fun of this- I think it's awesome.
The debri consists mostly of paper and plastic water bottles, newspapers, food wrappers and even American flags on the grounds of the National Mall.
Trucks hauling big septic tanks were working on porta-johns along the streets this morning. It'll take them until the weekend to get the thousands of portable toilets off the mall.
The federal government expects to spend about $49-million on the inaugural weekend, and the City of Washington and the states of Virginia and Maryland have asked for an additional $75-million for police, fire and medical services.
According to the blog Media Matters, when security and inflation are incorporated in the price tag, Mr. Obama's inauguration will actually cost less then George W. Bush's in 2005.
Meanwhile, we've all noticed the glut of Obama-related memorabilia, from the iconic to the kitschy. What becomes of it all? Some will shrink-wrap it and stick it in the attic where it will hopefully gain in value, but don't be too sure of that:
"There is so much being bought out there that we don't think there's going to be a lot of true value to these items down the road," said Michele McDaniel, President of the North Alabama BBB.
There's nothing wrong with buying the Obama-related novelties, but most memorabilia that ends up being worth the big bucks is rare. And since the sales of Obama souvenirs are soaring, production is way up.
"We're starting to see national commercials or ads in magazines for memorabilia, but we want to remind people that even if it says there's alimited edition that's been printed or published, keep in mind that if it's in a national magazine or commercial they might be targeting millions of people. So just because they say it's limited doesn't mean there aren't millions of items out there just like yours," said McDaniel.