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Washington Expects Record Crowds for Obama Inauguration


Officials in Washington D.C. say four million people could come to see the inauguration of President-elect Barack Obama - the largest-ever crowd to visit the nation's capital.

Visitors hoping to see Mr. Obama take the oath of office on January 20 are expected to pack the National Mall - a large open area that runs from beneath the Capitol building, where the ceremony takes place to the Potomac River. Many others will line the parade route that goes from the Capitol to the White House.

Requests have poured in for the 250,000 tickets available for special seating during the swearing-in ceremony. Those tickets are distributed primarily by members of Congress.

To prevent ticket fraud, the chairwoman of the congressional committee in charge of the ceremonies, California Senator Dianne Feinstein, has introduced legislation banning the sale and counterfeiting of tickets. She says the "chance to witness this event should not be bought and sold like tickets to a football game."

To ensure safety during inauguration weekend, local police will be joined by some 4,000 additional officers from 93 agencies across the country.

Mr. Obama's inauguration has generated extraordinary excitement, as he is to become the first African-American president of the United States. Hotels in the area are all booked, prompting enterprising residents to offer their homes for rent - some for thousands of dollars a night.