How to Safely Join the Inauguration Festivities

The inauguration of President-elect Joseph R. Biden Jr. and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris on Jan. 20 will be different from past ceremonies. The Presidential Inaugural Committee is urging people to stay home to keep large crowds from potentially spreading the coronavirus, and there’s heightened security after a violent attack on the Capitol.

But there are still ways to participate without grand, in-person festivities.

Ahead of the event on Wednesday, the committee is inviting people to upload videos of themselves on its website with hopeful messages, visions for the country or notes on unity. Or, send a selfie and you may be part of an augmented reality experience. Children can join in, too, by sending letters to Ms. Harris — who will make history as the first woman and woman of color to become vice president — with questions, ideas, advice or anything else they’d like to share.

On Jan. 19, join a national tribute in honor of those who have died from Covid-19. A lighting ceremony will be held around the Lincoln Memorial Reflecting Pool at 5:30 p.m. Eastern. Communities across the country can participate by ringing church bells or illuminating buildings.

If you want to celebrate the inaugural with others on social media, download festive visuals from the committee’s website, such as cover photos or Zoom backgrounds, and share posts with the hashtags #InaugurationDay or #Inauguration2021. (Find instructions at

On Jan. 20, watch the swearing-in ceremony live on the committee’s YouTube channel, on The New York Times website or on major networks, including CNN, ABC and CBS. The event will take place sometime before noon and will feature appearances by Lady Gaga and Jennifer Lopez. Afterward, Mr. Biden and Ms. Harris will participate in a traditional military review, meant to symbolize the peaceful transfer of power, and visit Arlington National Cemetery with three former presidents — a nod to the inauguration’s theme, “America United.” There are also plans for a televised virtual parade with performances from around the nation.

Then, starting at 8:30 p.m. Eastern, Tom Hanks will host a prime-time special featuring Bruce Springsteen, John Legend and other stars, as well as appearances by Mr. Biden and Ms. Harris. Watch it on ABC, CBS, CNN, NBC and MSNBC, or stream it on Facebook, YouTube, Twitter or Twitch.

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