Obama’s Crowd of 2 Million Quadruples Attendees for Bush
Obama! Obama! Just two blocks outside the White House, hundreds shouted in excitement as media cameras rolled. Chilly weather could not stop the crowds from swarming the security barriers surrounding the parade routes Tuesday morning.
Americans from all backgrounds were eager to stand in lines as early as 4 a.m. on Inauguration Day to see the parade that started at 2:30 p.m. today.
At least 50 percent of the estimated crowd of 2 million were African Americans, observers said. Figures from the National Park Service and Secret Service indicate that 300,000 to 500,000 people attended each of President Bush’s inaugurations, according to Rebecca Pawlowski, a spokeswoman for Destination D.C.
Shannon Hardin, 21, a senior public relations major Columbus, Ohio, said he and a nine other Morehouse College students carpooled from Atlanta last night, waking up at 3 a.m. for the parade.
“Twenty years from now we’ll remember that we waited out here in the freezing cold and it will be even more memorable. The 20-degree weather makes it just that much more special,” Hardin said “We’re here for the spirit. It’s about all of us. I can feel what we’re fighting for,” he said.
Chester Barboza, a 20-year-old student from Boston, said the cold weather doesn’t bother him and that preferred to be in the spirit of it all. Barboza said he volunteered for the Obama campaign and came to “see it through.” “The parade is confirmation to see that it all went through,” Barboza said.
Another former Obama campaign volunteer came out early to see her dream come true as well. Elizabeth Peters, a restaurant manager from Baltimore, said Obama was inspirational to black people worldwide.
“This is good for black kids. They can dream and their dreams can come through,” she said. “We are in a free nation. We’re people are free to dream.”
She said there was only three places she wanted to be right now: with Jesus in heaven, her son in Baltimore, or on the cold streets volunteering for Obama’s inaugural parade.
People all around the parade route said they knew that waking up at 3 a.m. was worth it to get good positions for the parade.
Chase Johannsen, 31, a textbook sales associate, said, “I have another opportunity to serve that I didn’t get a chance to see.”
Many people said Obama’s success was both the beginning and an end to progress in betterment for race relations in the United States. “Black and whites can now come together for a common good,” Peters said. “People were looking at us, blacks, like we were uneducated and at the bottom of the barrel. We all have something to aspire to be now.”
“We are free to dream,” Peters said.