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Obama Victory Celebrations on U Street

by Prince Of Petworth — November 5, 2008 at 1:50 am 47 Comments

Holy cow this was amazing. First, I waited on line this morning for almost two hours to vote. That has never happened to me in the many elections I’ve voted in before. You knew something special was brewing. You could sense it, practically taste it. And sure enough the victory celebrations have been amazing. At midnight you could walk anywhere on U Street from 9th Street to 14th Street and the streets were flowing with folks celebrating. There was honking cars, dancing, singing, fireworks, chants, you name it. I imagine it was like a combination of a World Cup, World Series and Super Bowl victories wrapped up in one.

I ran into Bill Crandall on 14th and U Street (see video above) and he had a really interesting insight. He said, we’ve come full circle, you know almost exactly 40 years ago there was rioting where we are standing right now. It was a really interesting thought. 40 years ago was mayhem and sadness. Today there was ecstasy. And today I should add the ecstasy was experienced by quite a diverse group. This group consisted of black, white and Latino and the joy was shared by all.

Eventually I knew I had to go home and was trying to catch a cab (unsuccessfully) near the 9:30 club when I saw two young women smiling and honking in a parked car. Well, the driver sees me and honks and smiles. Then she exits her car, runs over to me and hugs me and lifts me straight in the air spinning in circles while screaming “we did it, we did it, we did it!”. I have never witnessed pure joy like this in all my life.

So tell me what were your election watching experiences like? Did anyone witness some street celebrations? If so where? Were the streets blocked?

I can honestly say I’ll remember this night for the rest of my life.

  • Prince Of Petworth
  • mjbrox

    Am I the only one who was deeply disturbed by the constant sound of Gun fire last night? I can only assume it celebration shots in the air, but….seriously, WTF!

  • The U Street celebration went all the way to Adams Morgan and went on all night, at least until 3 am. My wife and I, of course, had to take our 2 month old down to 14th & U just after 11 to show him history in the making. He’ll never live in an America where an African American “can’t” be elected President. It was truly one of the most amazing experiences of my life!

  • K North of U


    I don’t know where you live, but where I was (11th and U) it was 100% fireworks.

  • jae

    We were on U Street at 11 and then moved up to 18th street–watched the acceptance speech at Tryst which was packing with people who came in to watch. Some of our friends were outside watching somewhere else. It started to rain when it was over but people were still out. It was amazing. People were still streaming out onto the street when we were leaving, and U Street was filling up too. I can’t even describe the feeling! Incredible.

  • AngryParakeet

    Yeah, lots of gunshots here at Georgia and Irving….because I don’t equate gunshots with cheer, I didn’t realize that was what they were – good clean fun!

  • Fellow Petworthian

    I camped out at Domku for the evening, waiting in vain for Mario Van Peebles and Maureen Bunyun. They never showed, I was sad. Actually it was packed and Kera put on a great party. Beer and wine prices fell through the night and she did a free round after it was called for Obama. We danced and sang to everything from Kool and the Gang to Bon Jovi. It was a lot of fun! Not to mention the Obama fries (with garlic mayo to dip) were outstanding, perhaps they can remain on the menu for at least the next term?!

  • Anonymous

    I just hope Obama reverses his position on abortion and allowing “born alive” children to die outside their mother’s womb.

  • anonymouse

    wow, it’s always interesting to read/hear people’s rhetoric suddenly change when things go their way – gunshots in celebration are “good clean fun”?!? seriously?
    i guess the laws of gravity were also suspended and the bullets never came down and hit anything. but it’s all good clean fun until someone loses an eye or worse.
    good thing no one was firing “celebration shots” into a robbery victim, otherwise the shooter could have claimed it was all in “good clean fun”

  • u street girl

    On U street it went on until at least 4 am, then I finally was able to fall asleep. I’m as proud and as excited as anyone else, but this was perhaps the one time I had wished I didn’t live on U street so I could have gotten a bit more sleep last night.

  • Bullets fired which then fall from the sky reach terminal velocity at a reasonably low speed and with little force of impact; their mass doesnt allow them to do much damage under the pull of gravity given that they are about the same size and density of a small stone.

    That being said… the celebrations last night were amazing; driving through U St. and Adams morgan was like taking part in a parade. People from every walk of life were shaking my hand and hugging me from outside the car as I drove by in a line of celebratory traffic.

  • New Hampy

    i hear ya anonymouse. i can live with fireworks, hoking, and general hollering, but “celebratory gunshots” – that’s an oxymoron if i ever heard one.

  • AngryParakeet

    Hey, I was joking about “good clean fun.” But don’t want to focus on negative on such a happy occasion.

  • ontarioroader

    Yep, LOTS of gunshots. If you’ve been around a while [or prior military/LE] you know the difference. Also some really crappy traffic collisions caused by folks ‘celebrating’. Saw a motorcyclist struck at 9th & Florida. I’m a psyched as the next person that Obama will be in office, but there was some really dumb crap going on last night also…

  • nate

    Truly amazing night. I don’t remember seeing so many people with American flags in a long time. People were celebrating as if we had just deposed a dictator.

  • E

    Things were pretty great around the White House as well. Lots of “na-na-hey-hey-goodbye”. The feeling is palpable in the city today.

  • Karen

    I watched the election coverage with some friends at Union Pub and then we walked to the White House, where cars were honking, people were chanting, singing, dancing, and crying. I’m never going to forget this. I’ve never been as proud of my country as I was last night, and it still makes me tear up.

  • Markus

    We were at the DNC party @ the Mayflower for most of our night…VERY festive atmosphere. Then we drove towards home and there was a palpable feeling of excitement as the clock struck 11. People in cars honking horns as we drove up Sherman…fireworks…kids on bikes celebrating. BIG parties spilling out onto the street.

    We finally wound our way into Domku for a free drink at the end of the night and it was party time in there.

    Really good night.

  • StubsDC

    Anyone noticed you can’t find a newspaper in the city today? The express ran out right as I got to my stop. And then the metro was packed with people of all ages glued to the newspaper. It makes me happy to see even the very young riders feeling engaged and excited.

  • clearbluewater33

    capitol hill had a number of gunshots and fireworks. at about 11 pm it sounded like a warzone for 15 min. scared me shitless.

  • anonymouse

    understood it was a joke. but yet look, someone else still defended gun shots up in the air as not being that harmful. hmmm. strange that anyone on this blog would ever defend guns shot up in the air, even for a celebration as “great” as this one.

  • Fireworks, cars honking and people yelling until 3:00 am in front of my house on 13th st. I didn’t mind but the fireworks set off my dogs barking! The poor pups were not happy!

  • Stephanie

    I am soo proud of (most) VA residents! I live in DC, but I campaigned for Obama in Reston/Herndon and Fredericksburg, knocking on doors and “preaching” about the Democratic party. It was very rewarding that all of the hard work the Obama campaign put into VA and other battleground states paid off!!

  • bogfrog

    Went to a party in Mt P, then Red Rocks! Wow! Lots of champagne, great honking of horns everywhere. Didn’t hear gunshots on Lamont St!!

  • Anon

    Stephanie, can I just say how FREAKING OBNOXIOUS it is when people knock on the door and “preach?”

  • Stephanie

    Ok Anon, I meant inform! And first I asked who they were voting for, if they said McCain, then I left. The residents didn’t have to open the door. But if they did and they were undecided, then I informed them about how Obama would be able to change this country! And apparently it wasn’t too obnoxious, since he won Virginia!!!

    What’s obnoxious, is typing in ALL CAPS!

  • over here in bloomingdale i heard lots of fireworks screaming and cheering. scores of people came oiut on their front stoop and screamed.

    cars honking all night long!

  • Otis Gal

    Alas I was stuck in the house with the baby but happily listened to the honking, cheering, and fireworks. What a great time to live in this country but most importantly this city. We are so lucky!!!

  • Odentex

    I’ve tried to be cynical about Obama for two years now with varied success, convinced he was just a cipher, a stuffed-shirt, a man not yet ready to lead anyone anywhere. It’s been even easier to be cynical about the country, the direction we’ve been headed for a long time, the bile and ignorance on display for the last six months, and the future only seeming to filled with more of the same. I’m a cynic at heart and if you don’t expect much then you can never be disappointed by the results.

    A quarter century ago America seemed to reach a compromise with our best ideals and what we was perceived to be the reality of the modern world. Beaten by decades of strife, assassinations, and disappointments, we accepted the platitudes of Reagan and his revolution that taught, in part, that we were truly on our own, that the fundamental attribute of humanity was self-interest, and that the market alone was a rough but appropriate mistress of equity. It was easy to read into our history that the language of the founders didn’t really match up with all of their actions, slave-holders and petty squabblers that they were. “We the people” with a nod and a wink. We started to look at those ideals as platitudes themselves, appropriate for a Capra movie script or a political stump speech, but not really something a true American cynic would ever take seriously. Leadership was best that appealed to the comforts of the majority and didn’t challenge the status quo — Reagan, Bush, Clinton, and Bush again. The towers came down and the leaders said “shop and ignore.”

    There have been no significant challenges to this idea for nearly 30 years. America looked backward for it’s “greatest generation,” looked backward for the “simpler times,” and looked backward to avoid the changes here and abroad until that averted gaze could no longer be maintained as our last comfort, credit — borrowing against a future we really didn’t believe in — dried up.

    As a teen and a young adult it was made clear to me that government, or any collective actions, were meaningless and pointless — you’d be better off to lock in that low mortgage rate and get what you can while the getting is good. The American dream as a lottery.

    Obama likes to say he’s the unlikeliest of candidates, but when he repeated that line again last night I started to wonder. Is it so unlikely that a people in the wilderness want to find a way out? Is it so unlikely that people systematically disillusioned, some from the beginning of this republic, want to hope? Is it so unlikely that a cynic who has been a bemused observer of the progress (or lack of it) in his own land finally notices that he or she isn’t isolated from the same longing for (dare I repeat the word again) “change”? Is it so unlikely that a first term senator from Illinois, gifted of tongue but light on experience, might be able to bring together a fractured nation and see it through a tremendous change?

    Maybe it isn’t. Maybe.

    Another inexperienced Illinois politician said the following in 1858 regarding the state of America just before the union plunged into civil war:

    “I hate it because it deprives our republican example of its just influence in the world-enables the enemies of free institutions, with plausibility, to taunt us as hypocrites-causes the real friends of freedom to doubt our sincerity, and especially because it forces so many really good men amongst ourselves into an open war with the very fundamental principles of civil liberty-criticizing the Declaration of Independence, and insisting that there is no right principle of action but self-interest.”

    The work for the country isn’t just propping up the economy, resolving environmental and energy threats, and repairing our interactions with the rest of the world, the job is much more profound. We have to change how we relate to one another and how we work with one another, to move forward and attempt to create a better life for everyone, and we must restore our belief in the principals of America — equality, freedom, and self-sacrifice.

    There is no shopping our way out of history. That’s what last night meant to me.

  • Anon

    “ALL CAPS” would insinuate that the entire post was in caps, and I agree.

    I don’t like anyone banging on my door to “inform” me about politics. You yourself called it “preaching” and frankly, that’s what it sounds like.

    Furthermore, this is Washington. Most of us know how we feel about politics. Banging on my door on a Saturday morning after I’ve worked a 70 hour work week makes me want to not listen to you, particularly after you’ve upset my dog, woken up my husband (who was at work until 4 a.m.) and rudely destroyed some of the rare moments of peace and quiet in our household.

    Waking up and upsetting my household doesn’t do you or your candidate any favors.

  • JessinMtP

    I watched the returns with current and future foreign policy experts, I screamed from balconies, I marveled at the grace of both speeches, I stormed the white house with America behind me, I clapped my hands, I raised my voice, I shed tears, I rode the bus with a vet amputee who wished his mother had been here to see it. I witnessed history. And we are all better for it. Yes I did. Yes we did.

  • Stephanie

    Anon: I tried to make a positive statement on this blog, by trying to be appreciative of the winning candidate (with some thanks to VA), and you are just turning my comment into something negative! Thanks for the support!

  • Anonymous

    nate- I am not a big flag person, but one could argue that a pretty meglomanical leader is being deposed.

  • JessinMtP

    Stephanie: Ignore him. You did the right thing, and America appreciates it.

  • DC_Chica

    I saw some of the celebrations on U st and in Adams Morgan (Dupont was quiet??) — definitely memorable 🙂 I read a comment today somewhere from an Obama supporter who said that she “felt like she could breathe again” — after the last eight years, I’m definitely feeling some of that too.

  • mari13th

    I live on 13th and decided to come down after the speeches. It was an awesome night and I stayed out on my porch talking with strangers and cheering with passing cars until 5am–after I drove to and from NC in one day to vote. I’m leaving DC, my home for over 8 years next week–there’s no better way to end it and I can’t wait to be back for the inauguration!

  • TCL

    I started at Chef Geoff’s downtown and migrated to U Street around 1am. Amazing celebration and don’t think I have seen Americans cheer for election results quite like last night.

    I didn’t hear shots but heard plenty of firecrackers.

  • Anon

    I’m merely saying that I think that this style of *action* (ie, preaching) reflect negatively on your candidate. The incessant banging on my door on a Saturday morning was *not* the “right thing,” but rather, a rude disruption the peace we’d created in our home.

    Regardless, I voted for him because I agreed with his policies (and the other choice was a non-starter). Those who want to educate themselves on a candidate will.

  • Perry

    Damn, Odentex, your entry is moving and inspiring, even as it’s grounded in what you describe as cynicism.

  • Stephanie

    Some people use Fox News as education, or they may not have the internet, so they don’t know all of the important (correct) issues! And, f.y.i. it wasn’t a precious Saturday morning….but freaking Sunday afternoon! And they had doorbells, which I rang one time. If you can’t take noise, then how do you possibly live in DC!

  • Anon

    In my neighborhood, it was a Saturday morning, the week before that, a Sunday afternoon. And I don’t have a doorbell – so instead, they banged on the door. And banged on the door. And did not cease banging on the door until dog was upset and hubby was woken. Incessant, rude, and piggish, to think that just because someone lives in a city they want to listen to your “preaching” (“informing”?)

    It’s not THAT hard to seek out information without the internet. One could read a newspaper. Who are you to assume that people don’t know all the “important” (“correct”) issues? How do they know that you’re not slanting them?

  • Stephanie

    You need to switch the 2nd N and the O and add a Y, cuz that’s what you’re doing to me, and I’m sure the rest of the other blog readers. Just leave it! We won, and that’s what matters!

  • Anon

    How creative of you.

  • st

    Canvassing is annoying – but both parties do it. Robocalls are annoying, but both parties use them. Relentless negative ads are annoying, but both parties blanket the airwaves, if they can afford it. Politics in this country is retail. Next time, tape a sign to the door saying “No canvassers please” on your door before you go to bed and get over yourself.

  • st

    Back on the positive tip, I was at the Safeway today, where I saw a line of fifty people waiting for a copy of today’s newspaper. Fifty. I love this country.

  • DCDireWolf

    I was down in Richmond helping to run a voter protection program. People spilled out into the downtown Richmond streets too, it was a sight to see.

  • dc_publius

    “And today I should add the ecstasy was experienced by quite a diverse group.”

    Just because you see black people and white people doesn’t mean it’s a diverse group. The fact of the matter is that this town is very homogenous in political beliefs, as is reflected in other elections and in vote breakdowns. What was the % split in DC, vs other cities, other states? When was the last time a conservative was elected to anything in DC? That’s not really diverse in anything aside from skin color.

    Obama celebration may seem unusual, I don’t know, but keep in mind that Republicans have been in power for quite a long time. I’m not sure. How was the celebration the first time Clinton got elected? I wasn’t here… was it comperable?


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