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Let The Inaugural Festivities Begin!

With Washington hosting days of celebration of the inauguration of Barack Obama, there will certainly be plenty of events to pick from.

Author and Washington Post columnist Sally Quinn has her finger on the pulse of the city, and knows where people go to see and be seen.

She gave viewers the scoop on the hottest events, on The Early Show Saturday Edition.

"There are two different types of events," Quinn explained to co-anchor Erica Hill. "First of all, there are the public balls, and then there are all the private parties going on, and private events.

"A lot of people who live here in Washington would never go to the balls. They know better, because they've been and they've been crushed to death and lost their coats and not been able to get a car or a drink! And then the private parties will be a lot of fun.

"But I think for people coming to Washington, the biggest ticket is the Neighborhood Ball, because that's where the Obamas are going to start out (Tuesday night), (where)they'll have their first dance, and that's where they'll have the biggest stars, (such as) Beyonce and Mariah Carey."

Beyonce will sing the Etta James classic "At Last" for that first dance. Beyonce played the blues great in the recent film, "Cadillac Records." She sings that song in the film.

Things kick off Sunday with a free, star-studded concert open to the public on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial. Scheduled performers include Beyonce, Bono, Bruce Springsteen, Mary J. Blige, Garth Brooks, Sheryl Crow, Josh Groban, Herbie Hancock, John Legend, John Mellencamp, Usher, Shakira, James Taylor, will.i.am, and Stevie Wonder. In addition, Jamie Foxx, Martin Luther King III, Queen Latifah and Denzel Washington will take the stage to deliver readings.

The Obamas and Joe and Jill Biden plan to attend ten official inaugural balls Tuesday night.

"I have been the pool reporter on one of those inaugurals, for Jimmy Carter," Quinn told Hill, "and I have to tell you, it is like a mad sprint. ... The motorcade of the Obamas is longer than any other motorcade. They've got decoy cars and they've got ambulances and sharp-shooters."

Then can stay at most of the balls only five-to-ten minutes, Quinn pointed out, since, "Already, ten minutes at each ball is an hour and it takes, you know, half-an-hour to get to one place and the other and screeching up to the thing, jumping out of the car, running in and standing there."

The Obamas' night, Quinn says, is planned out minute-by-minute. It's timed out down to the minute. The routes from each party have already been planned out, how much time he'll spend at each ball, etc. It will of course be controlled by a heavy Secret Service presence.

Mr. Obama is scheduled to speak at the Youth Inaugural Ball, one of the 10 official balls. This one, for people ages 18-35, will celebrate "the role young Americans can play to serve their communities" and feature performances by Miley Cyrus and the Jonas Brothers. Tickets cost $75, half the price of most inaugural ball tickets.

"He'll choose his moment to make a difference in a way that no other president has," Quin said. "I mean, we've seen that, you know, he's very much in control of what he wants to do, and he's got a very clear idea of how he wants to celebrate. I don't think this is going to be extravagant. But I think that people are wanting to get out and celebrate. There's gonna be a lot of things going on."

Quinn also told CBS News:

There will be a number of private parties Sunday night. The Kuwaiti ambassador and the Mayor are having a party Sunday evening, Maureen Dowd is having a party, there's a small party for Bono planned, etc.

There are a ton of private parties and private events being held this year. "Usually, I end up going to one or two parties each inauguration. This time I'll be going to one or two parties a night for a few nights in a row. I've never seen anything like this."

"I've never seen anything close to this. Even with the Reagans, who were of Hollywood, and the Clintons, who were always courting Hollywood, they didn't have this kind of a turnout, this kind of draw. Everybody's dying to be part of history and they want to be associated with and part of this young, attractive, energetic person. He's pulled some of the biggest names in entertainment to Washington for this event."

"Everybody wants to play and have fun. They want to be part of and celebrate this historic event."

"People are coming from all over to celebrate here in Washington. "I think people have a feeling of hope, they're energized by Barack Obama's administration. I think everyone is ready for a change ... so it's a very joyful, exciting time. Everyone seems to be looking forward to these next couple of days."

"Barack Obama has been holding meetings and luncheons with many of the Washington-based media outlets. He had a session with the Washington Post editorial board, which went over really well. Everyone is really impressed by him and his message. He's reached out to both liberal and conservative media outlets and everyone really seems to like what they see."



To see the CBSNews.com Special Report: Inauguration '09," click here.