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What Happens on Presidential Inauguration Day?

Presidential Inauguration

Hey Kids!

Today is a historical day in our country as it is the Inauguration Ceremony of our 45th President, Donald Trump. The Inauguration includes more than just the official swearing-in of the next President and Vice President. It is actually a whole day of of events, some dating all the way back to our nation’s first President, George Washington! The events have varied some over time, but here is a list of some that have stayed the same throughout our history…

Morning Worship Service

Since the inauguration of Franklin Delano Roosevelt (FDR) in 1933, most incoming Presidents have started this day out in worship. FDR went to a service at St. John’s Episcopal Church, which is next door to the White House. This tradition can actually be traced back to George Washington, who went to church after his 1789 inauguration in New York City.

*FUN FACT* Almost all Presidents have placed their hand on a Bible when taking their oath of office!

Procession to the Capitol

After worship the President-elect, Vice President-elect and their spouses will head over to the White House for a quick meeting. Then, the President-elect and exiting President will travel together to the Capitol building for the swearing-in ceremony. This tradition began in 1837 with new President Martin van Buren and leaving President Andrew Jackson.

*FUN FACT* In 1921, Warren G. Harding was the first President to ride to the ceremony in a car!

Vice President’s Swearing-In

Throughout history the Senate’s president pro tempore1, the Chief Justice or even the exiting Vice President has given the oath to the new Vice President. However, since World War II incoming Vice Presidents have been able to choose who would give the oath to them, sometimes even picking friends to do it!

*FUN FACT* The oath taken by the Vice President has been used since 1884!

President’s Swearing-In

This oath is given to the President by the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court… “I do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will faithfully execute the office of President of the United States, and will to the best of my ability, preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States.”

- Presidential oath of office Article II, Section I, United States Constitution

*FUN FACT* Thomas Jefferson’s 1801 inauguration was the first to be held in the newly-constructed Washington DC!

Inaugural Address

Most Presidents share their vision and goals for the United States and during this speech.

*FUN FACT* The shortest Inaugural Address was given by George Washington in 1793 at 135 words. The longest was from William Henry Harrison in 1841 at 8,445 words.

Inaugural Luncheon

After the Inauguration Ceremony is over, the new President heads inside the Capitol Building to a room called Sanctuary Hall for lunch. This special luncheon includes the President, Vice President, their families, Senate leaders, the Joint Congressional Committee on Inaugural Ceremonies (who is hosting the luncheon) and other invited guests.

*FUN FACT* The food served at the luncheon is based on the states that the new President and Vice President are from!

Inaugural Parade

After the Inaugural Ceremony and Luncheon are over, the President and Vice President lead the parade down Pennsylvania Avenue from the Capitol to the White House. There they will watch the rest of the parade from the Presidential Reviewing Stand with their families. The parade includes ceremonial military regiments, citizen’s groups, as well as marching bands and floats.

*FUN FACT* The longest Inaugural Parade was Dwight D. Eisenhower’s in 1953. It lasted 4 hours and 32 minutes and included 73 bands, 59 floats, horses, elephants, civilian and military vehicles. After this a limit was placed on the number of parade participants.

Inaugural Balls

Multiple celebratory balls are held for the new President in various locations. Official balls are planned by the Presidential Inaugural Committee.

*FUN FACT* Bill Clinton holds the record for the most balls – 14 at his 1997 Inauguration!

Are you going to watch Donald Trump’s Presidential Inauguration Ceremony today? When it’s over, let us know your favorite part and we’ll share it on our site!



Senate’s president pro tempore1: Member of the Senate who runs the Senate when the Vice President can’t be there.


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