Baltimore-area residents and visitors share their hopes and concerns for the Trump administration before inauguration day. (Lloyd Fox and Kenneth K. Lam/Baltimore Sun video)
WASHINGTON — For Cathy Kundratic, the inauguration of President-elect Donald Trump is about history, and the future.
The Harford County woman says the last few years have been tough on her small powder-coating business. She blames an uneven economic recovery overseen by President Barack Obama.
That's why Kundratic plans to board a bus bound for the nation's capital on Friday and bear witness as Trump — who has promised to reverse many of Obama's policies — becomes the nation's 45th president.
"I've never felt strongly enough about any inauguration before to want to go," said Kundratic, 52. "From start to finish, this has been such an unbelievably historic event that I wanted to be a part of it."
Kundratic joins thousands from Maryland — a heavily Democratic state that voted overwhelmingly for Hillary Clinton — who are planning to trek to the National Mall for the spectacle. Dismissing the forecast of rain, they will gather around the U.S. Capitol to cheer a president whose unexpected win in November has already upended Washington.
"I really feel like this is a turning point in our country," Kundratic said.
After Chief Justice John Roberts delivers the oath of office — and the Obamas leave the Capitol by helicopter — the incoming president has vowed to pursue sweeping changes in health care, federal regulations, immigration, trade and criminal justice.
For Democrats, those changes have been alarming. For Trump's supporters, they are exhilarating.
"Everything needs to change," said Martin Buckley, a 76-year-old retired Air Force pilot from Harford County. "I hope he fires half the people in the government. It just can't keep going the way it is."
The incoming president has remained unconventional and unpredictable since the election. He has attacked Hollywood celebrities, political rivals and a civil rights icon. He's moved markets by skewering some companies on Twitter while praising others. He has broken with tradition by declining to divest himself of his extensive business holdings or release his tax returns.
Since the election, he has remained largely sequestered on the 26th floor of Trump Tower in New York, hosting meetings with a wide cross section of Americans, from former Ravens linebacker Ray Lewis and musician Kanye West to former Vice President Al Gore, retired generals and congressional leaders.
His Cabinet nominees have faced tough questions from Democrats, but with Republicans in control of the Senate, they appear poised for confirmation.
Just more than 60 percent of Marylanders supported Clinton in the November election. The margin was one of Clinton's best anywhere in the nation.
Given the polarization laid bare by the campaign, many of those Democratic voters view the festivities on Friday — not to mention the next four years — with apprehension.
Marj Crane said she "may or may not" watch Trump's inaugural address on television. But the Annapolis retiree definitely plans to go to Washington on Saturday for the Women's March.
Crane, who has volunteered for Democratic candidates in the past, said she hasn't marched on Washington since the Vietnam War.
"He just spouts endless lies and insults," said Crane, 71. "I'm concerned that Trump is a loose cannon in every conceivable way."
Democratic state lawmakers in Annapolis are taking some early steps to try to push back on the policy changes Trump and his nominees have promised.
A pair of Democrats said Thursday they intend to introduce legislation in Annapolis to make sure more workers are entitled to overtime pay. The Obama administration tried to implement that policy as a Department of Labor regulation but was blocked by a federal court in Texas.
"I use the phrase that the next morning after the election was shock, and now I think it's the awe," said Sen. Paul G. Pinsky, a Prince George's County Democrat. "The awe is setting in and the next shoe to drop is the actual policy changes."
Pinsky said he would probably work rather than watching the inauguration.
But there is plenty of celebration in the State House. Republican leaders in Annapolis estimate as many as 21 state lawmakers — about a third of GOP caucus — will skip legislative business Friday to watch the festivities in Washington.
"It's exciting," said state Sen. Johnny Ray Salling, a Baltimore County Republican. "We're looking forward to seeing history. People don't realize this is a man who has never set foot in office before about to be president of the United States and commander in chief. We need to support him in any way we can."
Del. Robert B. Long agreed.
"It's a new day," the Baltimore County Republican said. "We need common sense in our government."
Trump swept into Washington on a military jet Thursday afternoon as the security presence around the city grew, with more uniformed law enforcement officers on patrol, the streets around Union Station blocked off and large barricades placed around the Capitol.
He gave a salute to the Air Force officer who welcomed him as he stepped off the plane with his wife, Melania, at Joint Base Andrews in Prince George's County. Later, he placed a ceremonial wreath at Arlington National Cemetery.
"It's a movement like we've never seen anywhere in the world," Trump said at a celebratory concert at the Lincoln Memorial.
To his unwavering supporters who were him from the start, he promised: "You're not forgotten anymore. You're not forgotten anymore."
Though many Washington schools and offices will be closed Friday, the city is nevertheless bracing for crowded Metro platforms and nightmarish parking. Early-morning Amtrak service from New York to Washington was sold out. MARC was set to run a special schedule, with trains heading to Washington in the morning only and returning only in the evening.
Larry Stottlemyer, who owns Adventure Park USA in Monrovia, plans to catch some of the action on television instead of dealing with the travel. But he said he remains intensely supportive of the next president.
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Stottlemyer said regulations on the banking industry imposed during Obama's administration have made it harder for businesses like his to access credit. For years, Stottlemyer said, he has wanted to expand his amusement park to include a water park.
"We needed a fresh view on everything," Stottlemyer said. "I'm excited that we've got a visionary person coming into office."
Baltimore Sun reporter Erin Cox and the Associated Press contributed to this article.
An earlier version misstated the location of Adventure Park USA. The Sun regrets the error.