WASHINGTON, 5:45 p.m. — Connecticut’s congressional delegation hosted a welcome event for visitors to the Capitol in the ornate Caucus room of the Russell Senate Office Building. In attendance was the entire delegation and leaders from throughout the state, including New Haven Mayor John DeStefano Jr.
WASHINGTON, 4:41 p.m. — The atmosphere here on Capitol Hill, and indeed in this entire city, is electric. People are cheering on street corners. People are excited to be here.
The Connecticut congressional delegation is opening its doors to their constituents. Sen. Chris Dodd hosted an “open house” at his office passing out fresh cookies baked by his staff. He and freshman Rep. Jim Himes welcomed Trumbull High School’s Golden Eagle Marching Band, which is performing in the parade tomorrow.
Tina Mazon of the Farmington Democratic Town Committee said she can’t wait for President-elect Obama to take the oath of office. “The world will change,” she said.
NEW HAVEN, 4:14 p.m. — Economizing has never been so important. As the esteemed YDN news editor Zack Abrahamson told me, “Prepare for this as if you’re going into a war zone.” With a predicted high of 32 degrees Fahrenheit and no backpacks allowed in many areas of the city, I will have to find a way to carry all of my essentials on my person. I’ll be wearing about four layers. I will be away from campus for just under 36 hours. Yet somehow, I will observe, report, and write a story with just a notepad and a low-tech cell phone. (My parents laughed when I asked for an iPhone for Christmas.) I’m both nervous and excited to see what obstacles I will encounter.
In the next few hours, as George W. Bush ’68 spends his last evening in the White House, I will eat a final dining hall meal (my swipes for tomorrow have been used to buy food for the AASA bus), attend a cappella rehearsal and make the trek across campus to the bus as I head into what promises to be an interesting day and a half.
WASHINGTON, 12:52 p.m. — At the Capitol, hundreds are lining up outside of congressional office buildings to pick up tickets to tomorrow’s inauguration. According to a Capitol police officer who declined to be named, the process appears to be going smoothly. More on the atmosphere here soon.
WASHINGTON, 1:00 a.m. — Tom Hanks’ invocation of Lincoln, Tiger Woods’ tribute to the military and Forest Whitaker’s appraisal of the American artist all drew polite applause in comparison to the wild cheers that met Jamie Foxx’s impression of President-elect Obama’s victory speech. Yet, this paled in comparison to the wild jubilation given to Obama himself.
Yesterday afternoon, 37 renowned celebrities, 12,000 portable restrooms, and an estimated 400,000 Americans from all over the country attended “We Are One,” the official opening ceremony of President-elect Barack Obama’s inauguration.
The two-hour event, held at the Lincoln Memorial at the National Mall here in Washington, was broadcast live by HBO and included performers such as Bruce Springsteen, U2 and the Black Eyed Peas. President-elect Obama, Vice-President-elect Joe Biden and their respective families were also in attendance, creating a cornucopia of stardom that drove the crowd into a frenzy and made the Washington cold a little more bearable.
NEW HAVEN, 11:50 p.m. — With all of the excitement and patriotism surrounding the inauguration events in the U.S., it’s easy to forget about the rest of the world. But, in fact, the events leading up to and concluding in the inauguration of America’s first black president have a significant impact not only on Americans, but on everyone else too.
This is particularly true for Kenyans, given Obama’s heritage. After spending three weeks in Kenya over winter break, I can say firsthand that Kenya is extremely proud and excited about Obama’s victory. T-shirts, kangas (pieces of printed cloth used as skirts), and countless other trinkets with Obama’s face on them are everywhere.If the souvenirs aren’t enough, the creation of a government holiday on November 6, two days after Obama won, definitely expresses Kenya’s enthusiasm for Obama. (more…)
CHICAGO, 5:00 p.m. – 17-year-olds Logan Spears and Miguel Pazoz from West Virginia visited Barack Obama’s former barbershop to have his name shaved into the backs of their heads. Then, they ate in Valois’, Obama’s favorite diner during his years in Hyde Park. Next, they plan on tracking down sold-out tickets to tonight’s Obama rally in Grant Park.
CHICAGO, 4:40 p.m. – According to 61-year-old Roilynn Brown, today is Obama day.
“Obama day! Obama day!” Brown chants to passersby on 53rd street in South Side neighborhood Hyde Park while handing out copies of the Hyde Park/Bronzeville community newspaper. “Here, take your newsletter.”
Brown stands outside of a Dunkin Donuts, opening the glass door for women entering or exiting the donut shop and encouraging people to vote. For Obama.
“We’re definitely confident,” Brown said. “All we have to encourage us is faith and hope, and that’s what this whole campaign is about. We hope that tomorrow is going to be better than today.”
At least in Hyde Park, everybody who is anybody is voting for Obama, Brown said. The Illinois senator shares their background and their sense of community, he said.
“Obama day!” Brown shouts to three men as they amble down the street. The guys are black and they look about 20 years old; they wear oversized jeans and the hoods of their sweaters are pulled over their heads, even though it is 70 degrees outside.
“McCain day!” one of the pack yells back at Brown. He pauses for a second, then laughs and yells out, “Psych!”
“Boy, don’t even play like that,” one of his friends retorts. “You’ll get your ass shot if you say that out here.”
CHICAGO, 11:38 a.m. — Here in Hyde Park, the leafy South Side neighborhood where Barack Obama made his home and launched his political career, his neighbors say they remember voting for him when he was their state senator. But, they said, they never would have predicted that they might some day vote for him for president.
Obama himself returned to his polling place at Shoesmith Elementary to cast his own ballot around 7:30 this morning.
John Hall, who lives across the street, said he had never seen his precint so crowded. In past elections, you could walk right in but today the line stretched around the block.
But this is no ordinary election for the residents of Hyde Park, who have known Obama as a neighbor, a state senator, a U.S. Senator, and now a presidential candidate.