As event pros, we can certainly imagine the massive undertaking that designing and producing an event so central to a nation’s history and which illustrates democracy itself must be. While this week’s inauguration was unique for a number of reasons, it stayed true to its legacy with visual and ceremonial events, while bringing together unique virtual and social media elements to showcase and honor a 200+ year tradition. Put more simply, the 2021 Inauguration did not disappoint despite the unique circumstances.
While there were no shortage of inspiring moments, and enough Bernie memes to last a lifetime, our favorite event production element was most certainly the Field of Flags, with 200,000 U.S. flags filling the National Mall and representing those that could not attend the inauguration in person. In the evening, the Field of Flags installation was lit up by 56 pillars of light, representing the 50 U.S. states, Washington DC, and the five U.S. territories. The installation reflected “a commitment to an inclusive and safe event that everyone can enjoy from their home”, and a powerful portrayal of the “America United” inaugural theme.
The Field of Flags also created a way to give back, with individuals having a chance to be a “symbolic sponsor” of a flag. With a sponsorship, each individual was able to select one of 95 partner organizations, to which proceeds of the purchase would be donated. From the commitment to inclusiveness and the stunning visuals, to the safety and charitable tie in, we loved everything about the Field of Flags!
Other Noteworthy Moments:
- The beautiful reading by Youth Poet Laureate Amanda Gorman of her moving poem, “The Hill We Climb.” Though Gorman’s reading lasted nearly six minutes, it felt like time stood still. She was the youngest person to have ever delivered a poem at a U.S. presidential inauguration at 22 years old.
- A Winter spin on the “Red Carpet,” the ladies of the inauguration wore solid jewel tones and looked amazing on screen. Vice President Harris, First Lady Dr. Biden, and Former First Lady Michelle Obama took our breath away walking down the grand steps from the Capitol. All of the family and guests on the stage and the entertainers all donned impactful monochrome that wove into a stunning visual.
- The evening ended with a live concert “Celebrating America” hosted by Tom Hanks and featuring a star-studded lineup. The finale performance was incredible, featuring Katy Perry singing her hit “Firework” in front of the Washington Monument and Reflecting Pool while a city-wide fireworks display was enjoyed by the Biden’s on the White House balcony and Kamala Harris with her husband at the Lincoln Memorial. The performance was pitch perfect social distancing with a shared live experience so unique to DC.
The 2021 Inauguration was an exceptionally produced event – especially given the circumstances. It was fun to watch along from our homes, though we would have much preferred to be on-site (behind the curtain, with radio and clipboard in-hand).