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What You Need to Know About this Year's Inauguration

What You Need to Know About this Year's Inauguration

The theme of the 46th Inauguration Ceremony is “America United.”


The 46th Presidential Inauguration is next week, and it’s going to look a bit different than what we remember from years past. The Inauguration is a big ceremony welcoming the president elect to the White House with traditions that have been practiced for decades. This year, the celebrations will continue to welcome Joe Biden and Kamala Harris into office, but they will be “scaled-back and reimagined” to stay Covid safe, and many of the events will be virtual.

No matter what side you're on, the Inauguration is a big day in history and its important that your children know what's going on in their country, especially today. Here's a guide to celebrating this year's Inauguration as well as some traditions from years past:

What will this year’s Inauguration be like?

Tuesday, Jan. 19, 5:30pm: There will be a lighting ceremony around the Lincoln Memorial Reflecting Pool in remembrance of the Americans who have lost their lives during the coronavirus.

Wednesday, Jan. 20, 12pm: Joseph R. Biden will be sworn in as president of the United States at 12pm on Jan. 20 on the West Front of the U.S. Capitol and will give an inaugural address and conduct a review of military troops, consistent with tradition. This year, he will be accompanied by socially distanced members of the military.

Wednesday, Jan. 20, 2/3pm: Instead of the traditional parade that typically occurs along Pennsylvania Avenue, the new president, vice president, and their families will receive a presidential escort from 15th Street to the White House from the U.S. Military. There will be a virtual parade (kicking off between 2 or 3pm) that remote viewers can tune into featuring music, poets, and dancers from across the country. Some of Biden and Harris’ famous supporters will Zoom into the parade to speak or perform. Former presidents George W. Bush, Bill Clinton, and Barack Obama will lay a wreath at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier at Arlington National Cemetery, as is tradition.

RELATED: Presidential Trivia Questions for Kids

Wednesday, Jan. 20, 8:30pm: For the first time this year, there will be a prime-time TV event starting at 8:30pm hosted by Tom Hanks. Lady Gaga will sing the national anthem and Jennifer Lopez will perform. Other celebrity guests include Justin Timberlake, Demi Lovato, Ant Clemons, and Jon Bon Jovi.



Maju Varghese, the executive director of the Presidential Inaugural Committee, said in the Times that the goal of the Inauguration is to have an “inclusive and accessible celebration that brings Americans together and unifies our nation, especially during such a tough time for our country.”

RELATED: 23 Black History Movies that Teach Kids Important Lessons 

How to Celebrate the Inauguration with Your Family

If you want to “join in” on the fun—or perhaps you’re planning to host your own virtual inauguration party—the inaugural committee has also released a variety of inauguration day graphics and Zoom backgrounds your family can download. 

You can also tour online National Mall exhibitions to learn about presidents to learn more about inaugurations past and present. To satisfy a sweet tooth, buy a pint of Jeni’s Splendid Ice Cream White House Chocolate Chip, released in honor of the inauguration.

If your family is into historical trivia, give these presidential trivia questions for kids a go.

How is This Year’s Inauguration Different Than Years Past?

These are some other traditions that are typical of a U.S. presidential Inauguration, but won’t happen this year, like:

  • A breakfast or lunch between the incumbent president and the president elect with their wives

  • A handwritten note to the president elect from the departing president

  • A luncheon

  • The Inaugural parade on Pennsylvania Avenue with thousands of military personnel

  • The Inaugural Ball

  • A National Prayer Service


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Melissa Wickes

Author: Melissa Wickes, a graduate of Binghamton University and the NYU Summer Publishing Institute, is the production editor for NYMetroParents. She's written hundreds of articles to help New York parents make better decisions for their families. When she's not writing, you can find her eating pasta, playing guitar, or watching reality TV. See More

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