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Biden's inauguration will be held in an unusual format: what will change and why

President-elect Joe Biden will not participate in the traditional Pennsylvania Avenue inauguration parade after he is sworn in, but will be accompanied by a presidential escort to the White House. USA Today.

Photo: Shutterstock

Joe Biden and new first lady Jill Biden will abandon the traditional inaugural parade on January 20, the President's Inauguration Committee announced on January 3.

Instead, Bidenov will be escorting a presidential escort from 15th Street to the White House following the swearing-in of the US president on the West facade of the Capitol. The escort will include representatives of all branches of the military, including the United States Army Band, the Combined Service Honor Guard, as well as the Commander-in-Chief's Guard, and the Fife and Drum Corps of the US 3rd Old Guard Infantry.

Planners have been looking for ways to continue many of the inaugural traditions while protecting the health and safety of Americans in the face of the coronavirus pandemic.

Replacing the traditional inaugural parade with a presidential escort will allow Americans and the world to see a new first family arriving at the White House without drawing in the large crowds that usually gather along Pennsylvania Avenue for an inaugural parade, committee officials said.

“This is a great opportunity to work with Americans across the country to demonstrate the unwavering commitment of President-elect Biden and Vice President (Kamala) Harris to a diverse, inclusive and united nation,” said Tony Allen, executive director of the committee. “There are many great traditions associated with the inauguration, and we plan to honor them by giving attention to more people than ever before, while keeping everyone safe.”

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The inaugural parade is not a thing of the past completely.

The "Virtual Parade" will be televised and will feature performances in various parts of the country. The parade will honor America's heroes, represent Americans from all walks of life across states and regions, and reflect the country's diversity, heritage and resilience, organizers said.

Participants in the virtual parade will be announced in the coming weeks, but the inaugural committee said the program will include musical performances, local bands, poets, dance groups and others paying tribute to American heroes at the forefront of the pandemic.

“These innovative programs will keep people safe and use new ways to attract Americans across the country — from young Americans to older Americans to rural and urban communities,” said Maju Varghese, executive director of the committee.

Members will practice social distancing and strict health and safety protocols, according to the founding committee.

The 59th inaugural ceremony will be shorter than in previous years due to the health risks associated with COVID-19. Biden and Harris will continue to take the oath of office on the Western Front of the Capitol, and Biden will deliver an opening speech in which he outlines his vision of fighting the virus, rebuilding and uniting the country.

The organizers of the inauguration urge the Americans not to go to Washington for the celebrations, but to virtually participate in the celebration.

The number of tickets for the ceremony will be limited. In the past, members of Congress have received about 200 tickets for distribution to their constituencies. This year they will be limited to tickets for themselves and one guest.

Rep. James Cliburn, co-chair of Biden's inaugural committee, said he expects a couple thousand people to attend. The site for the swearing-in ceremony has already been created.

“We are going to make sure that people participate in the event in such a way that they are part of the event, but at the same time maintain safety, health and comfort,” he said, noting that it is usually “icy cold” on the street at this time.

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“We're going to do it in such a way that you are a part of it, but you can warm up in your pajamas at home and enjoy it,” he said.

After being sworn in, Biden, Harris and their spouses will take part in a parade ceremony on the Eastern Front of the Capitol with the military.

The parade is a long-standing military tradition, reflecting the peaceful transfer of power to a new commander in chief. The new president, who is hosted by the commander of the National Capital Region Joint Task Force, will conduct a troop readiness review.

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Cliburn said he does not expect Donald Trump to appear at the inauguration.

“It will be a surprise for me if he appears there,” Cliburn said. "And a pleasant surprise if not."

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