By late morning, a sea of Democratic presidential nominee Barack Obama supporters flowed into Grant Park. By mid-afternoon, that crowd swelled to nearly 1,000–and that was just a small stream of non-ticket holders for the election night rally.
By late morning, a sea of Democratic presidential nominee Barack Obama supporters flowed into Grant Park. By mid-afternoon, that crowd swelled to nearly 1,000–and that was just a small stream of non-ticket holders for the election night rally. But they didn’t mind that they were not going to be able to be in the same area as Obama later in the evening. No ticket was needed to enjoy what they said will be a historic night. “Will you take a picture of me with the Jumbo Tron in the background?” Grace Hughes asked the Defender. Hughes, a native New Yorker who now lives in north suburban Naperville, said she has to have the proof to document that she was in the “place to be.” Wearing a t-shirt with Obama’s picture and the words “Express Yourself” at the bottom that she purchased at a Madonna concert last week, Hughes said she wouldn’t dare miss the event. “I’m here to support my candidate, Barack Obama, and I’m not leaving until he is announced the winner,” she said. Supporters of the White House hopeful –– young, old, Black, white, Asian, Hispanic –– set up camp in Grant Park near the Petrillo Band Shell and watched election coverage provided by CNN while they waited for the festivities to begin after the polls close. Polls closed at 7 p.m. A little closer to the screen sat a family of four who unpacked a multitude of snacks and explained why they came down to share what they classify as a rare moment that hopefully will become a regular one. Gaylord Minett and his three daughters sat on a blanket and had a small picnic. He told the Defender that it was imperative that his children got a chance to experience history. “I want to see Barack win this. I want them to definitely be here to see him win this. There’s just no other way to put it. This is too important for them to not witness it firsthand,” the 40-year-old father said about his daughters who range in age from 6 to 12. Minett said his family is prepared to stay late but not too late. He has to make sure the girls won’t be too sleepy for school tomorrow. “Hopefully there won’t be any mistakes at the polls, and the announcement will come around 10 p.m. at the latest. I’m ready to get this thing wrapped up,” he said. As the Defender made its way back through the crowd, a couple of first-time voters said this election would have a special place in their heart. Justin Sumulong, 24, and Sheela Cardeno, 21, both from Chicago, said they never thought they would see this in their lifetime. “It’s happening right in front of my eyes. I couldn’t have imagined this day coming at all. We talk about this kind of stuff in our history class but to actually see and experience it, it’s amazing,” said Cardeno, a student at Loyola University Chicago. Her friend Sumulong echoed her sentiments. “It’s time for this to happen, and we will be here all night,” he said. Two Springfield, Ill. residents, donning Obama T-shirts and buttons and listening to a Young Jeezy song that states that the president is Black, said they’ve been with Obama since the beginning and will continue to travel everywhere he goes. “We froze our butts off in Springfield when he made the announcement to run for president. It was about seven degrees then. And we’re here now for another announcement,” said Gabrielle Kilby. Kilby, 32, and her companion Keith Fisher plan to celebrate all night, head back to Springfield Wednesday evening, then start planning for the inauguration in January. “Once Obama gets this, we will make plans to go to Washington, D.C.,” said Fisher, who made a point to stress that the “vision” started with Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and is now with Obama, as depicted on his T-shirt. “Tonight’s the night,” the 40-year-old Fisher said. ______ Copyright 2008 Chicago Defender. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.