Construction on the presidential reviewing stand, where President-elect Donald J. Trump will view the inaugural parade, on Pennsylvania Avenue in Washington. CreditAlex Brandon/Associated Press
President-elect Donald J. Trump kicked around ideas for his inaugurationin his office at Trump Tower on Tuesday with two of his oldest friends, Mark Burnett and Thomas Barrack Jr.
The ideas spilled out from Mr. Burnett, a well-regarded showman best known for producing “The Apprentice”: a parade up Fifth Avenue, a helicopter ride to Washington from New York that could hold the attention of millions of people expected to watch from around the world.
Mr. Trump recalled the conversation Wednesday morning to an audience of donors, lobbyists and supporters at Cipriani 42nd Street during a fund-raiser to help support his transition operation.
The details offered a brief glimmer of a sprawling inauguration, full of the kind of showmanship for which Mr. Trump is famous, that could shake up what has become a relatively predictable affair for recent presidents. According to some of the people overseeing the events surrounding Mr. Trump’s swearing-in as the 45th president, they also bore little resemblance to reality.
In fact, they said, Mr. Trump’s celebration would be a relatively subdued affair — marked by Mr. Trump’s own touches, to be sure, but in the mold of past affairs.
“It’s going the opposite way,” Mr. Barrack, the private equity investor who is leading the presidential inaugural committee, said in an interview. “The president-elect wants this to be simple. He wants this to be about the people.”
“It’s not about putting on the most expensive talent and spending that kind of money to ingratiate himself,” Mr. Barrack added.
In many ways, the discussion between the three men in Mr. Trump’s office tower encapsulates the dueling impulses of the president-elect, a man who enjoys being at the center of attention, but who is also aware that he was elected on a strong populist message of “draining the swamp” of Washington cronyism and extravagance.
In reality, Mr. Trump’s festivities are constrained by security concerns surrounding the modern presidency, making some gaudier displays impossible and other far-flung ones unrealistic. Each event under consideration must be vetted by the overlapping agencies responsible for securing the transfer of power, including the Secret Service, responsible for a president’s security, and the National Park Service, which controls the Mall in Washington.
“You have five gigantic security groups that dictate what can and can’t be done,” Mr. Barrack said.
For example, Mr. Barrack said that hopes to open the White House to visitors, as Andrew Jackson did during his 1829 “People’s Inauguration” (and as other presidents did afterward), had simply proven unrealistic.
“Unfortunately, security concerns are different than they were in 1829,” he said.
Despite the modest nature of the events under consideration, Mr. Barrack said Mr. Burnett was actively involved in producing the inauguration week festivities. He will have a large team to work with, as the committee’s staff in Washington is expected to swell to more than 300 people by Inauguration Day.
“Mark is a genius, and the president-elect loves him,” Mr. Barrack said. Referring to the Tuesday meeting, he said, “This was about throwing stuff out if you are thinking in the frame of mind of what a global audience would see.”
It will include an opening “victory reception” for donors, as well as a series of more personal events with the incoming first family, Vice President-elect Mike Pence and members of Mr. Trump’s cabinet. Donors will be invited to candlelight dinners on the eve of the inauguration, and some will be able to attend one of two official balls planned for inauguration night.
Whatever Mr. Trump and the committee ultimately decide, there likely will be plenty of resources at their disposal. Mr. Trump’s fund-raising team has already secured roughly $50 million in pledged donations since it began soliciting money in earnest last week, according to two people involved in the effort.
The early success puts Mr. Trump in line to easily surpass President Obama’s 2009 inauguration, when his finance team raised a record $53 million to pay for the festivities. He should also easily meet or surpass the $65 million to $75 million fund-raising goal set by the committee.
The event at Cipriani on Wednesday was a sold-out affair, featuring some donors who had vehemently rejected Mr. Trump’s candidacy, such as the hedge fund billionaire Paul Singer, according to an attendee.
Those raising money to support the inauguration said they have seen a similar pattern, securing early pledges from prominent Republican donors who did not support Mr. Trump during the campaign. Corporations, they said, have also been forthcoming.
Yet, if Mr. Trump is looking forward to his presidency, he has not yet left the past behind, as was clear Wednesday morning.
Another person at the fund-raiser said Mr. Trump delivered a kind of greatest-hits recollection of winning the primaries and his grim odds for the White House. Mr. Trump said that heading into Election Day, he and his wife, Melania, had planned a vacation in the expectation that they would be seeing an early night.
He recalled Mr. Obama telling him privately that the president’s advisers had told him on election night, as the numbers looked grim, that North Carolina would be a firewall for Hillary Clinton, the Democratic nominee.
The attendance at the fund-raiser spoke to Mr. Trump’s change of fortune since becoming president. There were at least 850 people in the restaurant. Mr. Trump singled out those in attendance who had been part of the “Never Trump” movement, drawing a large laugh.