Braving the cold after spending many hours on the National Mall, an estimated 300,000 people lined the D.C. streets for the 56th inaugural parade Tuesday afternoon, a jubilant celebration of America’s newly installed president.

The parade began as the newly inaugurated president and the first lady emerged with Vice President Joe Biden and his wife, Jill, from the inaugural luncheon at the Capitol building.

During the luncheon, Senator Edward Kennedy (D-Mass.) was taken to the hospital, after suffering a seizure. He was later reported to be feeling well by The New York Times.

“I’d be lying to you if I did not say, right now a part of me is with him, and I think that’s true for all of us,” Obama said, according to The New York Times.

Despite somewhat solemn demeanors, both the president and vice president waved to cheering crowds as they entered the motorcades that drove them to the White House.

After emerging from the motorcade at around 4 p.m., the Obama and Biden families walked several blocks to the White House amid frenzied cheers from 300,000 parade onlookers, according to the USA Today.

Since Thomas Jefferson’s second inauguration, the inaugural parade has followed Pennsylvania Avenue from the Capitol Building to the White House. The 2009 event was no exception, with more than 15,000 people, 240 horses and dozens of marching bands, according to The Herald. More than 90 groups were chosen out of 1,400 applications for a spot in the parade – among those selected were The George Washington University, which presented a float, and the Howard University Showtime Marching Band.

Jaime Steinhardt (COL ’12) described the atmosphere of the event as an emotional experience.

“Everyone was clapping the whole time. Everyone was crying,” Steinhardt said. “It was complete contentment.”

In some cases, though, the large crowd prevented onlookers from reaching the parade route. According to the Associated Press, the parade route began to reach capacity around noon and police began to close off public entrances. The Secret Service, according to AP, had planned for 300,000 to 350,000 parade onlookers.

Eirene O’Connor (COL ’12) was able to avoid the mass crowd by watching from a nearby building. She attended an inaugural party at a law firm overlooking the parade route.

O’Connor said it was still exhilarating to be a witness to the parade.

“The moment that was almost more exciting than seeing [the Obamas] outside the car for those brief seconds, was seeing their car go by and being able to make out Barack’s face in one window and his daughters [faces] in the other,” O’Connor said.

As Obama entered the White House for the first time as president, he proceeded to the reviewing stand, a heated, glass enclosure built in front of the White House offering seating and a good view of the parade route for himself, the vice president, their families, staff and friends. There, President Obama, his family and guests watched the remainder of the parade.

The presidential procession was followed by performances from the marching band of President Obama’s alma mater, Punahou School in Honolulu, Hawaii and The Whitney M. Young Magnet High School Navy Junior Reserves Officer Training Cors, the first lady’s high school.

The one-and-a-half mile parade route also featured performances by the Howard University Marching Band, the Jesse White Tumbling Team and the Delaware State University Marching Band, as well as a number of floats including one for the state of Illinois and another for the state of Delaware – the home states of the president and vice president.

Given the limited space and large crowds on the Mall Tuesday, many onlookers were forced to choose between watching the swearing-in ceremony and the inaugural parade. Around 11 a.m., an announcement was made on the Mall that the parade route had already reached its maximum occupancy, and that further access would be denied.

Nick Shaker (COL ’12) had initially wanted to attend the ceremony but found himself at the entrance for the parade route instead.

“I arrived at about 2:30 in the morning, and there were about 200 people there,” Shaker said.

Check out The Hoya’s city blog, Outside the Gates, for more Inauguration recaps and student experiences.

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