Inauguration: Expect Nonstop Drink, Crowds The D.C. City Council has passed emergency legislation that would allow bars and restaurants to serve alcohol around the clock until 4 a.m. in the days leading up to the inauguration. The city's mayor says he'll sign the bill.
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Inauguration: Expect Nonstop Drink, Crowds

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Inauguration: Expect Nonstop Drink, Crowds

Inauguration: Expect Nonstop Drink, Crowds

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You have heard the figure. As many as four million people are expected to pour into Washington D.C. for the inauguration of President-elect Barack Obama. In anticipation of all those celebrants, legislation was passed to allow bars and restaurants to stay open much later. But as NPR's Allison Keyes reports, not everyone is toasting the idea.

ALLISON KEYES: In Washington's trendy Adams Morgan neighborhood, bars spread along the sidewalk like trees in a forest. So when you ask people here what they think of the city's plan to extend drinking hours for inauguration, the most common answer is, woo hoo!

Mr. JOHN JORDAN: I think it's a wonderful thing because I'm out on Philadelphia, and we're going to be here that week.

KEYES: John and Theda Jordan were here last weekend auditioned in bars and restaurants to hit with the 20 friends they're being in the town for the festivities. Theda says they just want somewhere cool to hang.

Ms. THEDA JORDAN: Some place that you can have fun. It's not going to cost you an arm and a leg. Someplace you can have some good food and some good company and no nonsense.

Mr. EDDIE WALICK: It's fabulous. They should do it 365 days a year.

KEYES: Eddie Walick(ph) stands on 18th Street smoking and smiling.

WALICK: People would come out to party. They'll have a great time. It will stimulate the economy. And so you might need a few more cops just to keep the peace, but I think it will be good.

KEYES: The legislation extends the hours for serving alcohol until four a.m. during and after the inaugural festivities. That's an extra hour past the normal closing time on weekends.

KEYES: But the legislation also calls for establishments to register and pay a fee to stay open. At Madam's Organ, a popular spot on this busy strip, owner Bill Duggan thinks that idea is stupid.

Mr. BILL DUGGAN (Owner, Madam's Organ): People are coming in from all over. They don't have kitchens. You know, they need a place to eat.

KEYES: Duggan says, if the city is letting bars stay open, why should the eateries face the hassle and cost of paying extra?

Mr. DUGGAN: I look at it as if we're the host for this big party. And, you know, when people come and visit me at my house, you know, they're coming in from all over, I make sure that there's food waiting for them, there's drink waiting for them no matter what time they get in, as they're traveling. And I don't see this as much different.

KEYES: But some in the neighborhood, like Nancy Shia, worry about the effects of the legislation on the people who live here. Shia is a member of the Advisory Neighborhood Commission, and she says, even on regular nights, it's a challenge when the bars shut down.

Ms. NANCY SHIA: If you see 18th Street at three o'clock Sunday morning or Saturday morning, it is a big deal. The people are out of control.

Ms. DARRAH FELDMAN: I think, in terms as stimulating the economy, that would be great, but personally, I'd like to see them stop serving alcohol.

KEYES: Darrah Feldman of Kensington, Maryland thinks revelers ought to remember just who the celebration is for.

Ms. FELDMAN: If you keep the bars open, they continue to drink. And the more intoxicated they get, the lower their intelligence goes and the higher the violence and crime and all that can happen. And I know that our new president is so not about that.

KEYES: Allison Keyes, NPR News, Washington.

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