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Chicago Shows Pride In Hometown President

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Chicago Shows Pride In Hometown President

Chicago Shows Pride In Hometown President

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STEVE INSKEEP, host:

Renee Montagne was on the National Mall for yesterday's inauguration. NPR's David Schaper was in the new president's home city, Chicago.

DAVID SCHAPER: A steady lake-effect snow falling and icy northwest wind, temperatures in the low 20s and a wind-chill around 5, none of it mattered to the several hundred people who were bundled up in Pioneer Court along Michigan Avenue at the Chicago River to watch the inauguration on jumbotrons.

Ms. KATHLEEN BOYLE: It's freezing out here, but no one seems to care. We're all just, you know, having a good time watching on the big screen. So I think people are just energized by the spirit.

SCHAPER: Kathleen Boyle actually came to Chicago from New York with a broken foot to stand in the Chicago cold and watch President Obama take the oath of office. She says she wanted a closer connection to the president than she would have felt in New York. That same kind of reasoning got Anna Nasmyth of Chicago off her couch.

Ms. ANNA NASMYTH: 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.

SCHAPER: And Nasmyth says she does feel it, both the energy and the emotion of this historic moment.

Ms. NASMYTH: I never thought I would see the day, live to see it. And it's here and it's awesome. It's really - there's no words to really describe it. I'm just - I'm a little choked up, really.

SCHAPER: When Yo-Yo Ma finished performing and Supreme Court Justice John Roberts began to administer the oath, an excited hush fell over the Chicago crowd. They laughed when Justice Roberts and Mr. Obama flubbed the word "faithfully," and then...

Chief Justice JOHN ROBERTS (Supreme Court): So help you God.

President BARACK OBAMA: So help me God.

Chief Justice ROBERTS: Congratulations, Mr. President.

(Soundbite of cheering)

SCHAPER: Among those erupting in cheers and clapping her gloved hands with a tear in her eye was Andrea Myers from the small town of Alden, Illinois.

Ms. ANDREA MYERS: I am absolutely thrilled. I can't believe that this is happening.

SCHAPER: Like many people around Chicago, Myers claims she knew long ago Mr. Obama would someday be president.

Ms. MYERS: Because he's amazing, and he listens, and he thinks, and he answers, and he's honest and true. And we just need somebody like that so much.

(Soundbite of crowd chanting "Obama")

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

Ms. RENADA HARDY: We couldn't make it to Washington, but we made it here.

SCHAPER: Hardy calls this moment miraculous and brilliant. As for the cold, she says history kept them warm. Indoors, from libraries and churches to bars and blues clubs, Chicagoans continued celebrating the inauguration of the first president from the second city long into the night. David Schaper, NPR News, Chicago.

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