There’s really not much to tell about the event last night. It was not a huge party; there was much celebration, hugs, laughter but the mood was hardly what I’d call self-congratulatory. It was refreshingly earnest as if everyone there, happy as they were about how it was turning out, recognized that we were all… all participating in a shared moment in history. Now, there were a number of street vendors selling their t-shirts, pins, posters, glow sticks etc. so you could have your take-home memorabilia of your moment in Grant Park — but hustlers hustle, which means they’re busting their ass to try and make a buck. There was nothing they were selling that I was even slightly interested in, but they stayed outside Grant Park on Michigan Ave. Grant Park was joyful and celebratory, but it was also largely respectable.
There were some annoying people, to be sure. There’s the dudes who were looking to score weed. There’s the suits who were hammered drunk walking into the park like it was a party for them. People were booing John McCain, and I told people to shut up — and they largely did. People were singing “Na na na na, hey hey hey, goodbye” for Sarah Palin, and I reminded people that we should be THANKING the Republicans for putting Sarah Palin on the ticket. You know, Cubs fans sneak into these events all the time in Chicago 😉
Security was hardly a factor here. There were three checkpoints before getting in, and despite the insane numbers of people, Security staff were very chill, very friendly. There were no metal detectors and no pat-downs. Only at the last checkpoint did they want to check my ID quickly to see if it matched my ticket. That was it. Otherwise, it was all they could do to ask me to dispose of my bottle of water and the sandwich I grabbed before going to the park.
The Obama speech was moving, as if it were more a convocation and blessing of what this nation has been charged to do. There was a shared sense as people left the event that what we’ve won is a chance to pursue our charge. Obama did not deliver a stirring victory speech: he delivered a gracious acceptance speech that reminded people that we’ve finished nothing; we’ve only gained the permission to continue.
Anyway, here are the pictures from the event, and as you can see, once we left Grant Park it became a huge street party. I got home around 1am after walking my way back to catch a 12:35am Metra. I saw a cop run after one person on my way back, but otherwise it could not have been any calmer. I was really proud of both the cops and emergency service workers AND the people of Chicago for having the good sense to be cool. About a million of us were downtown last night, and there was nary a scuffle. I hope the Olympic Committee was taking note.
UPDATE: I neglected to post the best picture of the evening, of my friend, hetero life-mate and partner-in-celebration, Jim!