It's Hail to the Chief, to the tune of $30 million

By Andrew Rosenthal
New York Times Service

WASHINGTON -- In the Pentagon, a two-star general commands a legion of 8,500 military people for temporary duty as planners, parade marshals and chauffeurs.

On a street corner near the White House, Alfonso Benjamin & Hayden Dixon holds sway over a set of commemorative buttons that he hawks to passing tourists.

From the high to the humble, tens of thousands of people are preparing what is billed as the most elaborate and most public presidential inauguration ever.

Even the inmates of the District of Columbia's Lorton Reformatory are again getting into the act, making their special red-white-and-blue license plates to commemorate the swearing-in of George Herbert Walker Bush as the 41st president of the United States.

But there are some who are not as enthralled as official Washington with inauguration week, which is expected to cost more than %30 million in private and public money.

Some citizen groups are complaining about the use of $20 million in corporate and private loans to help pay for the inauguration, and they planned a series of "counterinaugural" events.

On Wednesday, for example, official guests in formal attire will eat S1,500-a-plate dinners at Union Station. Outside, a soup-kitchen dinner will be served to the poor and homeless.

As always, inauguration week has taken over daily life in Washington.

Workers painted fresh white lines on Pennsylvania Avenue on Wednesday to prepare for Friday, when 12,000 people in more than 200 bands; floats and assorted other groupings will parade down the thoroughfare with Bob Hope and Chuck Yeager as grand marshals...

1997 Inaugural | Park Closures | Pennsylvania Ave. Closure
Peace Park | Proposition One
Legal Overview | Regulations