Some came with their kids, not wanting to miss the opportunity to impart a message of political leadership in a live civics classroom hundreds of thousands of people strong.
Others arrived with their own place in history in mind, considering President Barack Obama's second inauguration a second shot to celebrate the significance of the nation's first black president and be a part of it themselves.
Whatever the reason, Maryland residents joined people from all across the country on Monday who braved the cold weather and long security lines to be on the National Mall for Obama's ceremonial swearing in.
'A piece of history'
Matt Jacobson, 30, and friends Chris Franzoni, 31, and Stan Kimmel, 32, were on the mall early after celebrating the Ravens' win the night before at a D.C. bar, where they'd put a Ray Lewis jersey on an Obama cut-out.
The three attorneys, all originally from the Baltimore area, said they wanted to be on the mall this year to witness history, at Obama's second inauguration.
"I regret not coming to the first one, and I wanted to participate in a piece of American history that you don't get to take advantage of often," Franzoni said.
"It's a once-in-a-lifetime experience," said Jacobson, who also surprised his parents with inauguration tickets.
Ty Smith of Bowie lifted son Joshua, 7, onto his shoulders as the presidential motorcade appeared on a large TV screen.
Joshua wore a Redskins hat. His brother, 9-year-old Jeremiah, wore Ravens regalia.
The boys were too young to go to Obama's last inauguration, so their father wanted to make sure they made this one.
"Having somebody who looks like them, who is a demonstration of leadership, is so important," said Smith, who is African-American.
The boys said they were cold but having fun.
'A bucket list thing'
Gosia Jasinski, 28, watched the inauguration from one of the standing sections on the National Mall with friends John Vasilarakis, 28, and Emmanuel Vasilarakis, 24, brothers Jasinski knows from their days together at Kenwood High School.
"I convinced them to come down," said Jasinski, who now lives in D.C. but grew up in White Marsh. "It's a bucket list thing."
The brothers, who grew up and live in Baltimore, said they arrived Monday morning ready to take in the spectacle of their first inauguration. The three planned to spend the afternoon in Chinatown, they said.
"Then we're going to go home and watch replays from the Ravens game," said John Vasilarakis, who, along with his brother, was decked out in purple and black.
"It's a very good weekend," his brother said.
'It was really cool'
Shortly after Obama finished speaking, Jackson Gunhus, 12, of Davidsonville in Anne Arundel County, had this assessment: "It was really cool."
He and his mother, Nicole Gunhus, were taking in the day together after winning tickets from Rep. Steny Hoyer's office lottery drawing.
It had taken them an hour and a half to make it through security, and they were bundled up against the cold. But their spirits were high.
"Even though it was hard for him to see, at least he could be around everybody and get a sense of how important it is," Gunhus said of her son's experience.
'Second time around'
Lois Houston, 50, of Northwest D.C., was happy with a little space on the mall, taking in the fanfare in her hometown with her husband, Milford Ebo, 52, and children Mark Ebo, 14, Lauren Ebo, 12, and Laiya Ebo, 7.
It was a much better experience than four years ago, when Houston said she was stuck along with thousands of others in the Third Street Tunnel through Obama's first inauguration, in one of the most glaring logistical problems during the 2009 event, which drew nearly 2 million people.
"We were not even able to get close," Houston said. "We were stuck."
This year was much better, she said.
"We're excited about history, the second time around, and we're excited to be sharing it with our children," Houston said. "It's important for them to know they can aspire, too, to one day be president."
Jane Flemming and Melinda Kempton, of Obama's hometown of Chicago, were among the many visitors to the region from elsewhere in the country. The pair "lucked out" and won tickets in a lottery from the office of Rep. Daniel Davis of Illinois, and also managed to snag tickets to an area ball, and told themselves they couldn't miss Obama's second swearing-in.
"We're big fans," Flemming said. "We were sorry to miss it last time. We weren't going to miss it again."
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