WASHINGTON (AP) — President Barack Obama led off his inaugural parade down America's main street that paid homage to pioneers who paved the way for the nation's first black chief executive.
Re-enactors from a black Civil War regiment. World War II's surviving Tuskegee Airmen. Freedom Riders from the civil rights movement. They were Obama's nod to the past among 13,000 parade participants from all 50 states scheduled to travel down Pennsylvania Avenue from the Capitol to the White House.
And winding up the two-hour pageantry, a look to the future: a NASA lunar rover, the kind that may ferry astronauts on their planned 2020 return to the moon.
About 15 minutes into the parade, Obama and his wife, Michelle, stepped out of the limousine with a USA 1 license plate to rousing cheers and greeted part of the enthusiastic crowd.
A couple of moments later, Vice President Joe Biden and his wife, Jill, joined them on the walk.
Along the way, hundreds of people who had been packed on rooftops and balconies broke into loud cheers. They had an unobstructed view of the parade from above the large crowd.
The Obamas walked a few blocks before getting back in. They got out again as the limousine neared the parade reviewing stand in front of the White House and got the same loud reaction. They reached the reviewing stand in front of the White House to view the rest of the inaugural parade.
The Obamas first spent some time inside the White House, then emerged from their new home — the new president holding the hand of his younger daughter, Sasha, and the new first lady walking with daughter Malia. The family was met with hugs from many of the VIPs gathered inside the reviewing stand.
The 1.7-mile route was jammed with joyous but frozen onlookers who'd lined up in many cases before dawn to secure a good vantage point of Obama's motorcade and the following two hours of pageantry. People peered from the windows of nearly every building, while others watched from balconies and rooftops.