Washington, Nov.18 : As many as four million people are expected for the inauguration of President-elect Barack Obama, a crowd that would be three or four times larger than previous big events on the Mall.
According to a Washington Post report, only a fraction of those people will be close enough to a ringside view of the landmark event in the United States.
But officials are planning extra JumboTrons at the Mall and along the inaugural parade route so that spectators can feel a part of the historic day.
Washington D.C. Mayor Adrian M. Fenty said the crowd projections have emerged in briefings conducted by federal and local officials.
All plans are pending approval of the Presidential Inaugural Committee, to be set up by Obama, which determines the size and nature of the inaugural festivities, Fenty said.
But District officials have met several times with the Secret Service and other agencies.
The Secret Service is taking the lead in overseeing security and other logistics. Even for a city that has hosted vast throngs for marches, protests, celebrations, funerals and inaugurations, this will be an unprecedented test of planning and resources.
Fenty said officials expect people to camp overnight, starting Jan. 19, to get as close as possible to the swearing-in viewing area and parade route.
The next several weeks will be spent figuring out how to change the comprehensive playbook that has been used in the past.
"We have a great blueprint from years past, and we will follow that," the mayor said. "But we will start to make exceptions and deviations because, by everyone's estimation, we will have crowds that will be two, three, maybe even four times as large as the largest inaugural. . . . One of the biggest exceptions would be to open up the Mall."
Officials are talking about opening large sections of the Mall east of the Washington Monument, a space normally used for staging the many components of the inaugural parade, Fenty said. That would make the Mall a viewing area that experts said could accommodate several million people -- significantly more than in the past. Officials have not said where the parade groups will gather instead.