WASHINGTON, Dec. 4 (UPI) -- Planners for President-elect Barack Obama's inauguration face the challenge of balancing a celebration with a numbing financial crisis, observers say.
The goal, USA Today says, quoting Robert Schmuhl, a Notre Dame professor and author, is "to convey the historic nature without the histrionics of ostentation."
Presidential Inaugural Committee spokesman Josh Earnest says planners are putting together events that "acknowledge the severity" of the economic crisis.
The inauguration, he says, "serves as a reminder that in these challenging times, our citizens want the kind of leadership that's going to galvanize the country."
Washington Mayor Adrian Fenty predicts that up to 5 million people could converge on the city. More than 1,300 groups have applied to march in Obama's inaugural parade. Some 240,000 have requested free public tickets to the swearing-in ceremonies.
Giant viewing screens will be set up along the National Mall for people who can't get up close.
In a salute to tough times, the inaugural committee is not accepting donations of more than $50,000 -- a big drop from the $250,000 set by President Bush four years ago.