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INAUGURATION WATCH: A special dress ends a big day

Tuesday - 1/22/2013, 10:02am  ET

The Jackson Memorial High School Jaguar Band of Jackson, N.J., performs in President Barack Obama's inaugural parade in Washington, Monday,Jan. 21, 2013, following the president's ceremonial swearing-in ceremony during the 57th Presidential Inauguration. ( AP Photo/Jose Luis Magana)

The Associated Press

WASHINGTON (AP) -- AP journalists fanned out across the capital to cover Inauguration Day as part of a running feed of content and analysis. Here are their reports.

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A NEW CHAPTER

AP National Political Editor Liz Sidoti closes Inauguration Watch by summing up the day's events and what they might mean.

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No, this wasn't the euphoric celebration of 2009 that mesmerized a hungry nation clinging to promises of hope and change. Those times are long past.

But the inauguration of 2013 was history-making in its own right. It opened a new chapter in America's story -- and Obama's, too.

We saw a confident president again promise to lead the nation. Only this time, as he took the oath of office, he was speaking to a country filled with fear and anxiety. Many Americans worry that we are in a state of perpetual decline. Many despise the fact that our politics have become so polarized and partisan. And many fear the country will slide back into recession because of it.

We saw Republicans -- for one day, at least -- choose not to fight with the president. Rather, they joined him in celebrating -- through, gritted teeth, perhaps -- this uniquely American day.

We saw Vice President Joe Biden take his turn at glad-handing the parade crowd, sharing the spotlight with the president and, perhaps, setting the stage for his own presidential run in 2016.

We saw Michelle Obama look radiant in a custom-made Jason Wu gown to the inauguration balls. The ruby-colored, velvet and chiffon evening dress was her final outfit of a day that began with her in a Thom Browne navy-silk, checkered-patterned coat and dress. And her new hairstyle: bangs or, as they are often called today, fringes.

We saw Malia Obama, 14, and Sasha, 11, at turns poised and playful as they embarked on their dad's second term as young ladies, the bulk of their childhoods now behind them.

We saw only half as many people show up to see Obama's inaugural address as in 2009. Somewhere between 800,000 and 1 million came to National Mall, compared with 1.8 million four years ago. We saw Washington turn into Hollywood and a music mecca, for a few hours at least as celebrities swarmed the city. We saw that it's possible to hold an inauguration in above-freezing temperatures, an anomaly for January in Washington.

And we saw that even in the most divisive of times, even amid the harshest of words, the house that our founding fathers built more than two centuries ago still stands tall, no matter what kind of politics the moment might hold.

-- Liz Sidoti -- Twitter http://twitter.com/lsidoti

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CALLING THE PARENTS

Designer Jason Wu, who designed Michelle Obama's red halter gown as well as the white one she wore four years ago, spent recent minutes playing trying to reach his parents in Taiwan to share his news. "They're in two different places right now, so it's been phone tag."

-- Samantha Critchell -- Twitter http://twitter.com/Sam_Critchell

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DRESS DESIGNER: 'CAN'T BELIEVE IT'

AP Fashion Writer Samatha Critchell has just filed this dispatch about The Dress:

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Michelle Obama made it a fashion tradition tonight, wearing a custom-made Jason Wu gown to the inauguration balls. The ruby-colored dress was a follow-up to the white gown Wu made for her four years ago when she was new to Washington, the pomp and circumstance and the fashion press.

She now emerged in velvet and chiffon as a bona fide trendsetter.

"I can't believe it. It's crazy," says Wu, reached at his Manhattan studio. "To have done it once was already the experience of my life. To have a second time is tremendous."

The red halter dress was the only one Wu, who went from fashion insider to household name on this night in 2009, submitted for Mrs. Obama's consideration. He collaborated with jeweler Kimberly McDonald on the jeweled neckline. "For this occasion," says Wu, "it had to be real diamonds."

-- Samantha Critchell -- Twitter http://twitter.com/Sam_Critchell

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WE ARE YOUNG

The crowd at the official Inaugural Ball appeared somewhat dazed, even bored, as they awaited the president and first lady's arrival.

All that changed when the band fun. broke out into a song they knew by heart. Camera phones in the air, they joined in:

"Tonight, we are young. So let's set the world on fire..."

In unison they sang, until the last verse, when the lead singer's mic cut out. Then it was just the guests filling the massive convention center with the youthful chorus.

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