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Published: December 15th 2008
What can be said besides...amazing!
If you are black or white, man or women, democrat or republican, American citizen or other nationality it did not matter on Tuesday, November 4th in Chicago's Grant Park. History happens every day and to be there when so many people were celebrating history happen was something words are hard to describe. It has taken me a few weeks to post this entry since the evening mainly because I still have not found the right words to describe the feeling in the air.
While on business, I met a few friends in Chicago on Tuesday, November 4th. For weeks before the election the polls predicted Senator Barak Obama would become the next president of the United States. We anticipated the victory when we were there, but it was something that the night brought - true excitement as to what was going to happen. Unfortunately, a couple of us were locked in a room with some senior executives till 9pm so we missed nearly all the returns on television. Instead we were getting them via our PDAs.
Kelly, Mandy and I decided to head from our hotel to Grant Park around 9pm and Obama
This was us excited to join the crowd, but had NO idea what we were joining
was not expected to accept the nomination till 10:30. We left and met this intriguing guy, Rauf from Zimbambe who came to the US to study for his PhD. He speaks perfect American English after being here for 18 months and besides being incredibly smart, he speaks 5 other languages. After a couple of minutes of talking to him, he decided to join us and see it through the eyes of three American ladies.
After catching a cab, it took us nearly a half an hour to get from the river to the Hilton Hotel on Michigan Ave. For those that know the city it is only like 10 blocks and should not take more than 5 minutes with traffic in a cab. We were bumber to bumber traffic with people walking between the cars on Michigan Ave because the sidewalks were too crowded with people walking toward the park. The weather was at least 65 degrees and very warm for a November night so.
While waiting in the traffic, we saw people from all walks of life walking toward the park; old, young, Hispanic, African American, Asian you name it every nationality was looking forward to just
A mile before Grant Park
be part of the history in the making. We even saw this car painted with the name Obama on it.
We got out of the cab and tipped the cabbie. Our cab driver was pretty cool so as we were waiting in all the traffic, I started a conversation with him. After he dropped us off, I asked him if he could take us back to the hotel afterwards if I paid double in advance. I realized the crowd was very large just on Michigan Ave a mile a way so I thought it would be impossible to find a cab afterwards. I was so right (more about that later).
After walking through the crowd and attempting to get close to Grant Park we quickly realized it was not going to happen it was like 10pm and there were thousands of people trying to do the same thing. We hung out near Buckingham fountain for awhile and talked with other excited people about where they were from and what they thought about the change that was about to happen. We each must have meet 5o people or more just by people coming up and talking to you, hugging
you, crying and all sorts of emotions. This was all before Obama started giving his acceptance speech.
We could see Grant Park in the distance, could see the monitors and hear the echo of the beginning of the talk but it was really bad - we were too far away. Instead, we walked over to the Hilton on Michigan Ave and watched Obama give his acceptance speech on television. I have NEVER witnessed all walks of people standing anywhere watching one single thing and it was so silent in there that you could hear a pin drop. What was also exciting was that Rauf had never been in a bar. Hard for most people to believe, but they really don't have bars in Zimbambe so he never acquired a taste for alchol.
We watched Obama give his acceptance speech and then we left to go out and watch the crowd's reaction. There were thousands and thousands of people that took up Michigan Ave walking up and down the street that no cars were going down it. For almost an hour no cars drove down Michigan Ave. People were still coming up to us and could not believe what
The crowd about a half an hour after Obama's speech ended. They were walking over the bridge from Grant Park. People just kept coming...
had happened. Stangers were stopping us and asking us where we were from, hugging us and taking their pictures with us. Maybe it was because we were the only ones that we saw that had these t-shirts on that Rauf bought us from a street vendor. These words that I am writing do not capture the feeling of the evening. It was truly a part of history that I was part of. I can not think of another presidential candidate that I would have gone to their celebration ceremony.
An hour or so later, we headed to our cab to go back to our hotel and there were still thousands of people on every street that no matter where you looked, you could not easily walk on the sidewalk - anywhere. Another one of my friends from Chicago, Brian was fortunate to get tickets into Grant Park and later the next day he called me to tell me about his experience. He said he was like 10 thousand people back from what he could tell. I was so bummed that we could have been closer, but no matter what it was truly an amazing night.
Until the next
time, if there is one...
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