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As hundreds of thousands of people lined the streets on a frigid Washington Tuesday afternoon to watch the parade commemorating Barack Obama's installation as president, Obama watched excitedly from the reviewing stand and was saluted by the passing formations of bands, dancers, military personnel and acrobats.
He looked down from the stand and saw a flash from his past, the marching band of his Honolulu-based alma mater, Punahou High School, where he was known for his trusty jumpshot as a member of the basketball team.
Obama also smiled as members of the Chicago-based Jesse White Tumbling Team performed handsprings and somersaults in front of the new president who earned his stripes as a community organizer on the streets of Chicago.
The festivities came about five hours after Obama was sworn in as the 44th president and the first African-American president in U.S. history.
The parade kicked off with three rows of motorcycles in V-formations leading the way. Amid unprecedented security, Obama followed in a sleek, heavily armored Cadillac limousine dubbed "The Beast."
Obama and his wife, Michelle, spent the initial segment of the parade inside the vehicle, apparently restrained from stepping out into the street because of security concerns. Vice President Joe Biden and his wife, Jill, also walked along the route.
But at 4:03 p.m. the Obamas emerged from the vehicle, holding hands and waving to the delirious crowd as they walked down the street.
They got back inside the car and minutes later gave another group along the parade a treat when then got back out and walked along the route along Pennsylvania Avenue again before settling in at the reviewing stand shortly before 5 p.m.
The White House served as a backdrop to the glass enclosure containing dozens of guests and dignitaries, who greeted the first family warmly.
Hours earlier, shortly after noon, Obama took the oath of office, placing his hand on the same burgundy-velvet-covered Bible used for the 1861 inauguration of Abraham Lincoln, the president who led the United States through the Civil War and freed the slaves and who hailed from Obama's home state, Illinois.
"I stand here today humbled by the task before us," Obama said in his inaugural address.
Police predicted attendance could top the 1.2 million people at Lyndon Johnson's 1965 inauguration. That is the largest crowd that the National Park Service has on record.
President Ronald Reagan's 1981 inauguration drew about 500,000 people, while President Bill Clinton's 1993 inauguration drew about 800,000 people, according to park service estimates
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