Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Today, life is good (Obamapalooza, II)

I was at the rally last night in Grant Park to watch history be made -- very quickly, as it felt. We were settled in for the long haul (and just as well, because even if you were ticketed, if you didn't come early or on time, you probably didn't get in in time for the big stuff). Ohio's call provoked a huge cheer, then Virginia, then CNN (which was on the big screen in the park, with commercials blacked out) called it for Obama and it was almost stunning. I also didn't expect McCain to concede with such celerity, nor Obama to come out and give his speech so swiftly thereafter; I guess they decided to let everyone go to bed, especially on the east coast.

A huge, fairly well-behaved crowd, ethnically mixed as you'd expect in a big city but not more so, so to speak, with a bewildering array of t-shirts, ranging from "got hope?" to "Al Franken 2008." Obligatory boos for states called for McCain, gracious clapping during his speech. Not the best choice of music, Obama staffers: one of the commercial breaks featured Natasha Bedingfield's "Unwritten," and I thought to myself, I'm leaving.

You may not have seen everything we did at the Park; for that matter, I didn't see anything that happened on TV after Virginia was called, because they switched coverage first to McCain and then to park coverage. First we had an invocation by an African American bishop, then a few words and the Pledge of Allegiance by a white man, then the national anthem by an African American woman who was not great. The crowd around me started singing to drown her out. Afterwards, a few songs were played to fill in the gap: "Signed, Sealed, Delivered," some Brooks & Dunn, etc. And then the First Family was announced and... you saw the rest!

A few photos for you:

The crowd at Congress Plaza, waiting to start getting into the park. This was about 7:30pm.

Another crowd shot, in the park.

And finally...

Those beams of light behind the jumbotron are not actually fairy lights being emitted for Obama, as Jon Stewart might joke; they're security searchlights.

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