It's been years since the general public has been allowed to ascend the Washington Monument's heights.
A man dressed as the Washington Monument was earning his money Monday. (Matt Bush/WAMU)
The Washington Monument officially reopens today after being closed for more than two and a half years.
The monument has been closed since an August 2011 earthquake rattled the 555-foot obelisk, loosening the mortar and causing cracks in the stone slabs near the top of the structure.
The damage caused by the 5.8 magnitude earthquake was estimated to be $15 million. The government and private philanthropist David Rubenstein split the costs for the renovations.
Today a ceremony kicked off at 10 a.m. on the southwest lawn of the monument. Al Roker hosted the re-opening ceremony and there were several musical acts in attendance as well.
Awee Abayair of Los Angeles and William McMullen of Phoenix took turns taking photos of each other holding their tour tickets up in front of the monument. Abayair came specifically for the reopening today.
"We've been looking forward to this for many years, since the time they closed it down," Abayair said. "So finally we heard the news and said 'we have to be here.' We got the tickets and it's for later on in the afternoon, but you know what, being here is just so meaningful."
Another tradition returned today too: buying tickets early in the morning for tours late in the afternoon, meaning plenty of time to kill.
"You know what, here, there's no such thing as killing time," said one would-be monument-goer. "There are so many places to see and go visit." And with that she walked off toward the monument, where several visiting schoolchildren were lying down on their backs at the base taking photos of the concrete pathway to the sky.
Roughly 600,000 people visit the Washington Monument each year. You can reserve tickets to visit for yourself at Recreation.gov.