The National Mall is full of shaking people holding coffee mugs in gloved hands.
On the ground, newspapers and blankets are spread out, lawn chairs and tarps unfolded. Scattered here and there are boxes of Krispy Kreme doughnuts, Tupperware containers filled with cornflakes, wrappers with half-eaten-granola bars.
By 8 a.m., two hours before the ceremony starts, the crowd stretches back to the Washington monument, more than a mile long, Americans from across the country packed haunch-to-paunch, facing the Capitol Building, standing or sitting in huddles.
The sun is rising into a clear sky, bright and strong, and over the speakers erected on either side of the Mall, at regular intervals, music from Sunday's inaugural concert plays.
Women are dressed in large fur coats, scarves stretched across their noses and mouths, Obama buttons pinned to their lapels and up and down the fronts and backs of their coats. Hoods are drawn over heads. Ribbons flow from beanie caps and American flags project from back pockets.
Blankets are wrapped around shoulders and heads, forming amorphous, jostling masses. Some of the people in the crowd, black and white, young and old, have been up since 1 a.m., either by choice or for lack of sleep.
Around the Washington Monument, as the sun rises, gulls are flying in low, tight circles, swooping down over the assembling crowd.
There is a compound feeling here of joy, relief, nervous anticipation, excitement. Most people are smiling with expectant eyes, moving their shoulders, smacking their hands together.
"This is what people must have been feeling like when they were coming to the March on Washington, just being overwhelmed with emotion," said Mary Griffin, 51, of Martinsville, Va. "I'm standing here looking at all these races and colors," says Helen Williams, 55, of Ethel, La. "It's amazing."
- Read For Obama's Inauguration, Echoes of Lincoln and Martin Luther King
- Read more about the inauguration
- See photos of the weekend's inaugural concert
- Washington Whispers covers inaugural happenings