11 unexpected inauguration moments

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Expect the Unexpected

Pomp and tradition are part of every U.S. presidential inauguration. But other uninvited, unexpected elements impact the swearing-in ceremonies and other related events. Protesters, flubbed oaths, a fire, dead birds and even pneumonia have plagued past inaugurations.

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11 unexpected moments from past inaugurations
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11 unexpected moments from past inaugurations

Presidential Party in 1829

Andrew Jackson invited the public into the White House for a party after his swearing-in in 1829, and the result was chaos. According to various accounts, furniture was broken, food and drink were spilled, and it took a week to fully clean the White House after the hourslong party.

(Photo by Bettmann via Getty Images)

Ice Cold in 1841

Despite an ice storm, William Henry Harrison spoke at great length at his inauguration in 1841. His speech, at 8,495 words, was the longest inaugural address in history. Speaking for two hours in the poor weather likely contributed to Harrison contracting pneumonia, which led to his death a month later.

(Photo by Smith Collection/Gado/Getty Images).

Hungover Harangue in 1865

Vice President-elect Andrew Johnson, suffering from typhoid fever, consumed “medicinal” whiskey prior to giving a speech at the 1865 inauguration. Johnson’s speech was so incoherent that he was deemed unfit to swear in new senators, and a Senate clerk took over that duty.

(Photo by: Universal History Archive/UIG via Getty Images)

Dead Canaries in 1873

Ulysses S. Grant had requested canaries for his inaugural ball in March 1873, but they froze to death due to the cold weather in Washington.

(Photo by National Archive/Newsmakers)

Cowboy Flair in 1953

A California cowboy famous for rope tricks lassoed Dwight Eisenhower during the 1953 inauguration ceremonies.

(Photo by Bettmann via Getty Images)

Podium Problems in 1961

During President John F. Kennedy's inauguration ceremony on Jan. 20, 1961, the podium at which Cardinal Richard Cushing was delivering the inaugural invocation caught on fire. The motor that was used to adjust the podium’s height was the root of the problem, and Secret Service agents rushed forward to put out the flames.

(Photo by Frank Scherschel/The LIFE Picture Collection/Getty Images)

Parade Protesters in 1969

Richard Nixon's first inauguration ceremony was met with war protesters, who threw sticks, stones and smoke bombs at the presidential limousine during the inaugural parade. Protesters led a three-day counterinauguration that featured a parade, reviewing stand, and a ball that took place in a tent near the Washington Monument.

(Photo by David Fenton/Getty Images)

Cold Cancellations in 1985

For Ronald Reagan’s second inauguration, Washington's winter weather was so cold that he took the oath of office inside the U.S. Capitol and canceled the inaugural parade.

(Photo by Pictorial Parade/Getty Images)

Cold Cancellations in 1985

For Ronald Reagan’s second inauguration, Washington's winter weather was so cold that he took the oath of office inside the U.S. Capitol and canceled the inaugural parade.

(Photo credit should read /AFP/Getty Images)

Naked Protesters in 2001

Among the protesters were two who wrote "No Mandate" and "Hail to the Thief" on their bodies; they got about 20 yards away from President George W. Bush and stripped. This marked the first time the inaugural oath was disrupted.

(Photo credit LESLIE E. KOSSOFF/AFP/Getty Images)

Oath Oops in 2009

During President Barack Obama's first inauguration, Chief Justice John Roberts was reciting the oath of office from memory and made a mistake in one sentence. Obama followed suit. The pair recited the oath correctly the following day at the White House.

(Photo by Rick Friedman/Corbis via Getty Images)
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Copyright 2016 U.S. News & World Report


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