Chicago Shows Pride In Hometown President

Chicagoans are beaming with pride after seeing one of their own sworn in as president of the United States. People in the Windy City congregated along Michigan Avenue in bone-chilling cold.

They gathered in Pioneer Court, an open space along Michigan Avenue at the Chicago River, across from the famous Wrigley Building. The steadily falling lake-effect snow, temperatures in the low 20s and an icy northwest wind didn't have any effect on the hearty, bundled-up Chicagoans and a few visitors, who huddled together to watch the inauguration on Jumbotrons.

"It's freezing out here but no one seems to care," said Kathleen Boyle, who came to Chicago from New York, with a broken foot, to stand in the Chicago cold and watch President Obama's inauguration. "We're all just ... having a good time, watching this on the big screen, so I think people are energized by the spirit."

Boyle says the scene in Washington, D.C., seemed too crazy, but she wanted to feel a closer connection to the president than she would have felt in New York.

That kind of same reasoning got Anna Nasmyth of Chicago off her couch.

"Well, I took the day off today and I was going to sit at home and watch it on TV, but I said, you know what, I really want to be out and feel the energy," said Nasmyth, who adds she did feel both the energy and the emotion of the historic moment.

"It's a little overwhelming, it really is, but it's a great feeling. I never thought I would see the day, live to see it," said Nasmyth. "It's here and it's awesome. There's no words to really describe it. I'm just a little choked up, really."

She wasn't the only one fighting back tears as President Obama concluded the oath of office. The Chicago crowd erupted into cheers, clapping mittened and gloved hands.

"I am absolutely thrilled! I can't believe that this is happening," said Andrea Myers of Alden, Ill., as she wiped a tear from her eye. "We've waited so long. This is really cool."

Like many people around Chicago, Myers claims she knew long ago that Obama would someday be president, "because he's amazing and he listens and he thinks and he answers and he's honest and he's true and we just need somebody like that so much."

Renada Hardy of suburban Park Forest pulled her daughters out of school so they could be a part of history.

"We couldn't make it to Washington, but we made it here," said Hardy. She called the atmosphere wonderful. The moment Barack Obama put his left hand on the Bible, raised his right hand and recited to oath, was both miraculous and brilliant, she said. As for the cold, she said, "History is keeping us warm, for sure."

Hardy's 14-year-old daughter, Asia Billingsly, says she feels part of history, even if she didn't go to Washington, D.C.

"I think about when I get older, my kids are going to read in history books [about] the first black president," said Billingsly, adding with a wide smile, "and I'll be able to tell them I was there and I witnessed it."

Some Chicago students want to keep the celebration going. Through chain text messages, e-mails and Facebook pages, they're urging one another to wear black to school Wednesday out of respect for the new president from their hometown.

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