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Grant Park and the Center of the World

(Photo: Ten seconds later.)

Change in air. Golden ticket. Perfect evening. Carnival atmosphere on walk to Grant Park. Disneyland loudspeaker announcements, “Go right, oh ticketed attendees.”

Dodging Kamikaze piles of horse poo. Hearing rumors among lined-up throng. Slogging through three security checks.

Belt back on. Stepping down to the field. Heraldic columns of light above podium. CNN blow-by-blow on massive Jumbotrons. Five hours on feet. Crushing crowds. Blowing dust. Crappy pizza.

AT&T cell service missing in action.

Worldwide media beginning to work crowd. My legs growing tired, most legs here, far younger, are doing fine.

Tiny early lead for McCain. Then Pennsylvania falls and hope arises. Chilly boredom between CNN top-of-hours.

Dum-dum-da-dum. Stuttering musical intros from CNN pile up. Ohio falls. New Mexico falls. Breath gets shallower among crowd. Is it really happening this fast?

Dominos begin to go. Iowa.  Virginia.  Collective disbelief.  It’s coming now. It’s coming now.

9:59:50 p.m. CST. CNN warns of special announcement.  A quarter million people spontaneously count down in unison, 10, 9, 8, 7, 6, 5, 4, 3, 2, 1…

Dum-dum-da-dum. CNN Breaking News, Chicago gives Barack Obama to America as its first black President. One tiny second of pause between announcement and realization. Then jubilation.

Bush years over, finally over. The Great Society, at long last, comes to pass.  This native New Yorker proud beyond words to live in Chicago, Illinois.

At the moment, the absolutely undisputed center of the world.

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Mike Doyle

I’m an #OpenlyAutistic gay, Hispanic, urbanist, Disney World fan, New York native, politically independent, Jewish blogger in Chicago. I believe in social justice, big cities, and public transit. I write words and raise money for nonprofits. I’ve written this blog since 2005. And counting...

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10 replies

  1. I agree. Judging by his first press conference yesterday, I also hope he loosens up. I’m sure he’ll find his “Presidential” voice soon. He needn’t have a dry delivery to have Commander-in-Chief cred. I think we’ve had enough of that.

  2. and as for Obama as prez-elect, he’s a once in a lifetime candidate. quality, class, dignified. the man will restore our credibility on the planet.

  3. how incredibly cool. i’m thrilled that Obama won and yes, we definitely did some celebrating here. i’m a lifelong clevelander and this place is a huge dem stronghold. in fact, cleveland is to ohio what austin is to texas in many ways. but make no mistake — we’re all glad to be so out of sync with the rest of our state.

  4. No problem, Peter. It was an honor to be there, and I really still haven’t parsed the fabulousness of having a black President-elect yet.

    Afterwards, crowding was so thick in downtown Chicago, I walked almost the entire 1.5 miles home in the middle of Michigan Avenue and State Streets, two of this cities most major arteries.

    But I’m sure you guys celebrated with just as much relief and joy in Cleveland!

  5. After I wrote this, Indiana (in yet another historic battleground reversal) was called for the Democratic President-Elect, too. Obama has officially won the entire Great Lakes region.

    And here’s a great video-interview feature from the Windy Citizen with regular Chicagoans, Why I Voted.

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