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Inauguration Day 2021: Everything you need to know

As our nation prepares for a historic day on Wednesday, we've put together a guide of what you can expect as Joe Biden becomes our nation's 46th president.
Credit: AP
A large American Flag is are placed on the National Mall, with the U.S. Capitol behind, ahead of the inauguration of President-elect Joe Biden and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris, Monday, Jan. 18, 2021, in Washington. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)

WASHINGTON — On Wednesday, Joseph Biden will take the oath of office to become the 46th President of the United States. Upon being sworn in, Kamala Harris will become our nation's first female vice president, the highest-ranking female elected official in U.S. history, and the first African American and first Asian American vice president.

The ongoing COVID-19 pandemic will impact many of the traditional Inauguration Day events. We've put together a guide with everything you need to know, including how to watch.

When is inauguration day 2021?

President-elect Joe Biden and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris will be sworn in on Wednesday, Jan. 20 in Washington, D.C., with Biden's swearing in expected to happen around 12 p.m. Eastern. 

Where is the inauguration being held?

The ceremony is expected to be held at the Western front of the Capitol building in Washington, D.C., which is the side that faces the National Mall and the Washington Monument. 

According to Accuweather, it is expected to be dry in the D.C. area on Inauguration Day with highs in the low 40s.

Biden's swearing in will happen in-person, but expect the audience to be limited. His inaugural committee is urging Americans not to attend in-person.

How can I watch the inauguration? 

We will be airing the inauguration live on 3News. You can also stream it live at WKYC.com and the WKYC app.

What is the theme of the inauguration?

"America United" is the official theme for Inauguration Day events as Kamala Harris and Joe Biden prepare to take the oath of office, and various events and shows take place throughout the day. 

Presidential Inaugural Committee CEO Tony Allen said in a statement, “This inauguration marks a new chapter for the American people — one of healing, of unifying, of coming together, of an America united.”

Will there be a parade?

The President-elect will receive a "Presidential Escort" to the White House. This will be followed by a “Parade Across America,” which will be televised for the American people and feature diverse, dynamic performances in communities across the country. 

The parade will be hosted by actor Tony Goldwyn and feature well-known performers and athletes, including: Jon Stewart, New Radicals, who will reunite for the first time in 22 years, and DJ Cassidy's Pass The Mic, featuring Earth Wind & Fire, Nile Rodgers, Kathy Sledge, The Trans Chorus of Los Angeles, The Washington Chorus, The Triumph Baptist Church Choir, and everyday Americans

Also, the University of Delaware Drumline and the Howard University Drumline -- the alma maters of President-elect Biden and Vice President-elect Harris -- will join the Presidential Escort in Washington. They will escort the President-elect and Vice President-elect from 15th Street to the White House and help kick off the “Parade Across America” with live performances.

Who is performing at the inauguration? 

Lady Gaga will sing the national anthem at Joe Biden's inauguration and Jennifer Lopez will give a musical performance on the West Front of the U.S. Capitol when he's sworn in as the nation's 46th president. Garth Brooks has also recently announced that he will perform as well.

RELATED: Lady Gaga to sing national anthem, J-Lo to perform at Biden's inauguration

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At the swearing-in ceremony, the Rev. Leo O’Donovan, a former Georgetown University president, will give the invocation and the Pledge of Allegiance will be led by Andrea Hall, a firefighter from Georgia. There will be a poetry reading from Amanda Gorman, the first national youth poet laureate, and the benediction will be given by the Rev. Silvester Beaman of Bethel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Wilmington, Delaware.

The committee has announced several celebrities including Justin Timberlake, Demi Lovato, Jon Bon Jovi and Tom Hanks are lined up to participate in "Celebrating America," a 90-minute special on the evening of Jan. 20. 

How to watch “Celebrating America” special 

“Celebrating America,” a prime time special hosted by Tom Hanks, will air the night of President-elect Biden's inauguration. 

The special will feature Biden and Harris, along with remarks and performances by Demi Lovato, Jon Bon Jovi, Justin Timberlake, Ant Clemons and more. The show will air live on NBC starting at 8:30 p.m. on Wednesday evening.

On Friday, the Presidential Inaugural Committee announced Eva Longoria and Kerry Washington will introduce segments throughout the night. Including highlighting stories of young people making a difference in their communities and musical performances. Foo Fighters, John Legend, and Bruce Springsteen are also expected to perform from iconic locations across the country.

On Tuesday, the organization added even more performers to the line up including country artists Tyler Hubbard and Tim McGraw will sing a duet and the Black Pumas will perform. The program will also include DJ Cassidy’s Pass The Mic, featuring Ozuna and Luis Fonsi. 

The program will also be streamed live on YouTube, Facebook, Twitter, and Twitch.

Program organizers say the display is meant to "highlight the strength of our democracy, the perseverance of our people, and our ability to come together during trying times and emerge stronger than ever before."

Will Donald Trump go to the inauguration?

While it was widely speculated for weeks that Trump wouldn't go to Biden's inauguration, the president confirmed as much on Jan. 8. 

He will be the first incumbent president since Andrew Johnson to skip his successor's inauguration. 

Trump has offered no clues for how he would spend his final hours in office. Biden will become president at noon on Jan. 20 regardless of Trump’s plans.  

RELATED: President Trump says he's not going to Joe Biden's inauguration

The inauguration is expected to be produced a lot like the 2020 virtual DNC

In December, Biden told reporters his inauguration would look closer to what they did for the virtual DNC convention than a typical inauguration."

The inaugural committee is planning a virtual parade, instead of a traditional in-person spectacle, which, is expected to feature Americans from across the country. 

“There are many grand traditions to the inaugural and we plan to honor them by highlighting more of our nation’s people than ever before while keeping everyone safe,” Tony Allen, chief executive of the inaugural committee said. 

The virtual programming is also expected to feature poets, local bands and a tribute to frontline workers.

Biden, Harris to lay wreath at Tomb of the Unknown Soldier

One of the first things Biden and Harris will do after taking the oath of office is go to Arlington National Cemetery and visit the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. 

Biden and Harris, along with their spouses, will be joined by former Presidents Barack Obama, George W. Bush and Bill Clinton along with their wives. 

Taking the oath of office

As done traditionally, the chief justice, John Roberts, will administer the oath of office for Biden. Biden's oath is 35 words, but some presidents make it 39 words by adding "so help me God" at the end.

"I do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will faithfully execute the Office of President of the United States, and will to the best of my ability, preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States."

Biden's oath will come shortly after Harris is sworn in by Justice Sonia Sotomayor, the first woman of color to sit on the Supreme Court. Since 1884, the vice president-elect repeats the same oath of office as senators, representatives and other federal employees. 

"I do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; that I take this obligation freely, without any mental reservation or purpose of evasion; and that I will well and faithfully discharge the duties of the office on which I am about to enter: So help me God.

RELATED: What are the oaths of office for presidents and vice presidents?

Is Inauguration Day a federal holiday?

Depends on where you work! 

Inauguration Day is established by statute as a holiday only for federal employees who work in the "Inauguration Day area" in the nation's Capital or nearby. That's defined as the District of Columbia, Montgomery and Prince George’s Counties in Maryland, Arlington and Fairfax Counties in Virginia, and the cities of Alexandria and Falls Church in Virginia, according to the Chief Human Capitol Officers Council. 

Biden to attend Mass with congressional leaders before inauguration

Joe Biden’s incoming chief of staff, Ron Klain, on Tuesday retweeted a post that said Biden had quietly extended invitations to Democrats Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Schumer and to Republicans Mitch McConnell and Kevin McCarthy to accompany him to a Mass at St. Matthew’s Cathedral.

Spokespeople for Pelosi, Schumer, McConnell and McCarthy confirm they are accompanying Biden.

Sen. Chris Coons tells CNN the church service is “an important part of respecting tradition.”

Coons is a Democrat from Biden’s home state of Delaware. He says the service is a “reminder of who Joe is and who we are as a nation that’s hopeful and optimistic.”

Biden Inaugural Committee hosting program for children

At 10:00 a.m. on Wednesday, the Biden Inaugural Committee is presenting a special program for children. The livestream, Our White House: An Inaugural Celebration for Young Americans, will be hosted by award winning entertainer and advocate Keke Palmer. It will feature a special message from Dr. Jill Biden; commentary from historians Doris Kearns Goodwin and Erica Armstrong Dunbar; a segment on presidential pets produced by Nickelodeon; excerpts of student voices from PBS NewsHour Student Reporting Labs “We the Young People” programming; trivia questions, including some asked by Doug Emhoff; segments produced by the Library of Congress; and other special features.

More Inauguration coverage:

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