On Friday January 20, hundreds of thousands of people converged upon Washington DC-most importantly capitol hill-for the inauguration of Donald Trump; the 45th president of the United States.
Of those in attendance were Greg and Jeni Hinz of Merrill.
As Jeni explains, the couple decided to attend the event not so much for the sake of being supporters of the newly elected president, as for curiosity of the much heralded quadrennial event.
“Shortly after the election I recieved an email from the office of congressman Sean Duffy, offering tickets for those who would like to attend,” she said.
“We aren’t necessarily supporters of president Trump, but the whole idea of going really struck our curiosity. I mean it’s a major event and hundreds of thousands of people attend! There was no limit on how many tickets we could sign up for, so we talked about it and decided to go. We really had no idea what we were in for or what the tickets actually meant but we were excited.” she adds with a laugh.
“I will admit I do like his message and straight fowardness,” Greg adds.
“I like the fact he gets to the point and doesn’t really cater to one party or the other. He tells it like it is, he’s always been controversial.”
As of the morning of January 18, the couple were airborne via Southwest Airlines, bound for Baltimore, Maryland-approximately 30 minutes from Washington DC.
Given the president’s decision to not mail tickets to the event, the Hinz’s picked up their tickets from Duffy’s office in DC on the 19th.
Following the inauguration celebration at the Abraham Lincoln Memorial on the night of Thursday January 19th, the couple’s sights were set on the main event Friday at Capitol Hill.
“One thing I noticed right away, and will never forget, is how festive and peaceful everyone was. We didn’t observe any incidents. It seemed as if everyone was having a lot of fun and making it a very positive experience,” Jeni adds.
While the Hinz’s agree security was present but not necessarily heavy at Thursday’s event, that all changed Friday.
“Our assigned area ended up being around a quarter to a half mile from capitol hill and everywhere you looked there were soldiers or law enforcement. I would say at least 75-100 in every direction.” Jeni explains.
“I think I heard someone say there was an estimated 28,000 police officers and deputy sheriffs in DC for the event. I don’t think I have ever seen so many police in one area!”
Despite the distance, due to large ‘jumbotron’ screens the couple state they still were able to observe all of the inaugural activities and even caught a few glimpses of exiting president Obama and president Trump, with the naked eye.
When asked of the most memorable moment of the event, both Greg and Jeni agree on a particular group of people spotted as they were leaving the inauguration.
“As we were walking toward the metro train station, all of a sudden I saw a group of 10-15 men and women dressed in all black go running past us!” Jeni explains.
“They were wearing black bandanas or scarves around their faces with black hoods, and they were carrying a large black flag with a red ‘A’ in the middle. They didnt come toward us or say anything to us, but their behavior and the way they were dressed was very unsettling! But as unnerving as it was, it was a consolation to look the other direction and see a large group of police standing by. Like I said before there was a lot of security and everything for the most part was very upbeat and positive. But when those people passed us it was a good feeling to know police were nearby. Later I did some research and found out the red ‘A’ stood for anarchy. They were anarchists.”
Later Friday evening when the Hinz’s were watching a recap of the day on television, they spotted the same group in a video clip.
“They were talking about the protesting and looting on TV and next thing I know they show a clip of people looting the Bank of America building. Then there on the screen was that group we seen! One of them was running past the camera waving that flag….I just remember feeling this large knot in the bottom of my stomach when I seen that.”
The couple returned to Merrill on Saturday, January 21 and despite the one unsettling experience, both Greg and Jeni agree they would do it all over again.
“It was really something to see,” Greg adds.
“The celebration on Thursday was a lot of fun, it was a fun experience overall.”
“I would highly recommend anyone go who gets the chance, you’ll never forget it!” Jeni adds with a smile. “We had a lot of fun and the weather was great. The temperature stayed in the 50’s and the only time it really rained was when Donald Trump placed his hand on the bible to be sworn in.”
Photo Gallery of the Hinz’s Inauguration trip