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How to Attend the Presidential Inauguration, Inaugural Balls

President Barack Obama gets sworn in for his second term on Jan. 21. Read up on how you can attend the inaugural events. And, if you do, we'd love to have you share your thoughts and photos.

Preparations for President Obama's second-term inauguration are well underway, so if you hope to attend any of the activities in Washington, D.C., best to get a move on.

Call your California congressional members to check on whether their offices still have tickets to the swearing-in.

Each senator and representative receives a limited quantity of free tickets that they may distribute to the public at their discretion. 

If they have run out of tickets, viewing from the National Mall is open and does not require tickets. There are large screens set up on the mall to watch the goings-on. 

The non-ticketed area of the National Mall begins at Fourth Street NW.

However, go early because the mall will be packed. In 2009, President Obama's inauguration attracted 1.8 million to the mall, according to an estimate from the Washington Post.

President Obama's swearing-in will take place at noon on Monday, Jan. 21, on the West Front of the U.S. Capitol. (He'll be sworn in privately the day before, due to a constitutional requirement that he be sworn in by Jan. 20, since the 20th falls on a Sunday.) 

There are a host of activities on inaugural day. 

The swearing-in and address will be followed by a parade down Pennsylvania Avenue, which is open to the public.

Inaugural balls, luncheons
Individual states are also holding their own celebrations. The Inaugural Fashion Show and Luncheon is being hosted by the California State Society at at The Ritz-Carlton in Washington, D.C., on Saturday, Jan. 19. Tickets are $250.

President Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama are expected to attend just two official inaugural balls—the Commander-In-Chief’s Ball for members of the U.S. military and the Inaugural Ball, both at the Washington Convention Center.

The ticketing period for both official events has closed, but if you still want to get dressed up and dance the night away, there are a number of “unofficial” Inaugural Balls—ones that are sponsored by state parties or societies, non-profit organizations or other groups.

While there won’t be a presidential visit, they can be a lot of fun.

The American Indian Inaugural Ball is also Sunday, Jan. 20, at the Crystal Gateway Marriot. Tickets are $140.

You may see people wearing lei with their ballgowns around the Renaissance Arlington Capital View Hotel for the Hawai'i State Society Inaugural Ball on Sunday, Jan. 20.

The Servant Forge Inaugural Ball, a charitable ball, is taking place in the Terminal A lobby at Reagan National Airport on Sunday, Jan. 20. 

Looking for the official ball from your home state? Huffington Post has a guide to the inaugural balls here. You may also check out this inaugural ball guide from about.com.

Are you planning to attend any of the inauguration events? We'd love to have you share your thoughts, observations and photos with your hometown Patch. Please tell us in the comments or email your Patch editor and we'll take it from there!

Patch editors Mary Ann Barton and Beth Lawton contributed to this report.

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