WASHINGTON – Marching bands, giant floats and two U.S. senators on horseback paraded up Pennsylvania Avenue on Thursday, turning the capital's downtown into a sea of red, white and blue for President Bush's (search) inauguration.
Bands from as far away as Alaska, women dressed in blue jumpsuits and waving silver stars and a float of the Declaration of Independence traversed the 1.7-mile parade route, as did Sens. Max Baucus (search), D-Mont., and Conrad Burns, R-Mont., who were on horseback.
Several sections of bleachers were empty, either due to the heightened security or temperatures in the 30s.
Bush and first lady Laura Bush (search) got out of their limousine and walked about two blocks before watching the festivities from an enclosed reviewing stand with bulletproof glass. Their daughter Jenna, a University of Texas graduate, gave the "hook 'em horns" greeting to the Longhorn band as it marched by.
The parade had 14 giant floats, more than 70 marching bands and marching units, and thousands of dignitaries and representatives from every state. The military estimated about 10,000 participants in the parade.
The parade got under way later than planned as the inaugural luncheon ran late. Bush's motorcade made its way down the avenue, speeding up as it passed a designated area for protesters.
Bill Cox, a lawyer and Bush supporter who works in New York, said he attended because the inauguration is a "once in a lifetime event."
Tim Taylor, 61, of Big Rapids, Mich., said he was in Washington for the first time in 43 years and that this was his first inauguration. "It's very fulfilling coming here and seeing the patriotism. ... We all want the same thing — a good economy, world peace, security. I know President Bush will come through for us the next four years," Taylor said.
Stern-faced soldiers in camouflage stood outside a tent at a checkpoint where all spectators were patted down. A German shepherd sniffed at cameras and bags.
Some protesters along the route joined in a "Turn your back on Bush" demonstration, where Bush opponents turned their back on the president as his motorcade made its way to the White House.
Joe Miller, 64, of Goochland, Va., expressed frustration that he had moved six feet in one hour as thousands of people tried to go through a security checkpoint. He just gave up. "I hope people feel happy to be here — living here in the United States they get freedom and prosperity, " said Miller.
Mary Comer, 40, drove overnight from Pittsburgh with three of her children and a friend to watch the parade. Her husband is a Marine in Iraq, who left in August.
"My kids need to see their father's boss. They consider President Bush Daddy's boss," Comer said. She was in a festive mood despite the fact she couldn't get up close. "I can't see it, but it's good to be here."