Special interests gather for own inaugural parties

By By JACK GILLUM and STEPHEN BRAUN

WASHINGTON (AP) — While most Americans will watch President Barack Obama's second inauguration festivities on TV or on the Mall, a privileged set of celebrities and special interests are getting up close by attending exclusive soirees just blocks from the ceremonies.

High-powered lobbying shops and law firms are opening up their Pennsylvania Avenue offices for clients, legislators and government officials, affording opportunities to renew ties and lay the groundwork for lobbying and deal-making.

But this year's festivities will be scaled back from the 2009 levels at Obama's first inauguration. Downtown Washington's hotels are jammed, though not to capacity, and Dulles International Airport anticipates roughly 300 private aircraft, significantly fewer than the 700 planes from last time.

But limousine rentals are still doing brisk business, judging by the elegant stretches clogging downtown streets.

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