March for Life 2020: What you need to know

If you’re thinking about heading to the 47th March for Life on the National Mall Friday — whether you’re from the area or coming from afar — here’s what you need to know about getting there and getting around.

Q: What is it?

The March for Life is an annual rally marking the anniversary of the Supreme Court’s 1973 decision in Roe vs. Wade, which legalized abortion across the United States. Organizers consider abortion a human rights violation and are “working to end abortion.”

President Donald Trump announced Wednesday that he would be the first U.S. president to attend the event in person. The president tweeted that he would be attending: “See you on Friday…Big Crowd!”

Q: When and where?

The main event is a rally on the National Mall at 12th Street at noon, followed by a march up Constitution Avenue at about 1 p.m. There’s also an expo, a pre-rally concert outside the Capital One Arena and a youth rally. Check the organizers’ website for more details.

Q: How can I get there?

Organizers recommend taking Metro.

The three closest stops to the starting point are Federal Triangle (on the Orange, Silver and Blue lines) and Metro Center (on all those lines plus the Red Line) and L’Enfant Plaza. Smithsonian Station will be closed from system open through the early afternoon hours and trains will bypass it.

A few pieces of advice for Metro newcomers (and, sadly, not-so-newcomers):

  • The Washington Metro runs on SmarTrip cards, which you can (and should) load up at machines in the stations before your trip.
  • Let people get off the train before you get on.
  • That said, be quick about getting on. If you’re waiting for a train and see most people congregated at one spot on the platform, head for a less-populated spot — spread the crowd out a bit.
  • Metro doors are not like elevator doors — don’t stick your hand or foot out at a closing door thinking it’s going to spring open. It won’t, and you’ll not only hurt but will most likely cause the entire train to have to stop and empty everyone out and head off for repairs, making everyone wait for the next one which will then be super-crowded. Not that that’s ever happened on a train I’ve been on or anything.
  • There is no eating, drinking or smoking on Metro.
  • If you want to stand on the escalators, stand to the right. Leave the left side to people who are walking down.
  • Changing trains is the real time killer. If you have the choice, get as close as you can get on one train and then walk. Here’s Metro’s map of their system.

Q: Can’t I just drive there?

I wouldn’t.

Q: C’mon. How bad could it be?

This bad (road closures and restrictions courtesy of the D.C. police, also for the benefit of those trying to get around the march):

Emergency No Parking from 6 a.m. to noon

  • F Street between 6th and 7th streets Northwest
  • 6th Street between E and G streets Northwest
  • 3rd Street between Independence Avenue Southwest and Pennsylvania Avenue Northwest
  • 4th Street between Independence Avenue Southwest and Pennsylvania Avenue Northwest
  • Constitution Avenue between Pennsylvania Avenue and 14th Street Northwest
  • 7th Street between F Street Northwest and Jefferson Drive Southwest

Closed from 6 a.m. to noon

  • F Street Northwest between 6th and 7th streets

Closed from 10 a.m. to noon

  • 7th Street between F Street and Jefferson Drive Northwest

Closed from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.

  • Constitution Avenue Northwest between 12th Street and Pennsylvania Avenue

Closed from noon to 3 p.m.

  • 3rd Street between Independence Avenue Southwest and Pennsylvania Avenue Northwest
  • Constitution Avenue between 3rd Street Northwest and 2nd Street Northeast.

Q: (Gulp) Can I get that in map form?

You got it. Click on each marked road to see its status:

Q: OK, what was that Metro map link again?

Thought so.

Q: What can’t I bring?

Firearms, explosives and weapons; pepper spray and large bags aren’t allowed on the National Mall. Signs can’t be more than 20 inches by 13 inches, and they cannot have a thickness of more than 0.25 inch, according to the Secret Service.

If you’re headed to the grounds of the Capitol or the Supreme Court, you also can’t take bags bigger than 18 inches wide by 14 inches high by 8.5 inches deep; also aerosol containers, food and drink, or sealed envelopes and packages.

According to a Secret Service spokesperson, there’s a security checkpoint, which opens at 8 a.m., at 14th Street Northwest, between Madison and Jefferson drives. It includes magnetometers. Guests must pass through them.

Other prohibited items include drones, selfie sticks, coolers, balloons, backpacks, bicycles, laser pointers and glass, thermal or metal containers.

Q: Is it streaming anywhere?

The organizers say they’ll carry it on their Facebook page.

WTOP’s Mike Murillo and Zeke Hartner contributed to this report.

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