Big win for Chicago

By Editorial Board

Many speculated what would come out of the Grant Park festivities on Nov. 4 in honor of then-Sen. Barack Obama’s candidacy for president in the 2008 Presidential Election. They ranged from extremes of drunken debauchery and vandalism to violence and riots that would shake the foundation of downtown Chicago. The city shook that evening, but it wasn’t because of violence and mayhem.

Despite all possibilities, the crowds of more than an estimated 240,000 people, according to the Chicago Sun-Times, remained orderly, complacent and united in a pact to make the best out of the historic event hosted in Chicago’s backyard.

In what could be seen as the biggest celebration in the city’s history, that of the election of the nation’s first black president and also the first to call the Windy City home, Chicago has been catapulted into the international spotlight.

And though the city has been struggling to rid its reputation for its off-the-charts homicide rates and gain support for a bid to host the 2016 Olympics, it now

sits high on the world’s radar as a place

to watch.

When word broke of the possibility of a hometown rally for Obama, flashbacks of the 1968 Democratic Convention came to mind. Violence erupted in the city, with anti-war protesters battling with police and Grant Park becoming a hub of destruction and anguish. Though Chicago has experienced nothing like it since, the possibility of a sequel was still imminent for some. And from the images burned into our minds from that event, it wasn’t something the city could bear to experience again.

But with the spotlight directly on Chicago on Nov. 4, it was clear that this event, 40 years later, was of a different caliber. People of all ethnicities, ages, orientations, backgrounds and circumstances gathered in harmony, focusing closely on the large screens stationed in the park. All attendees were more than cooperative, and even after the president-elect spoke and crowds were forced to exit the park, barely any conflict arose.

Perhaps his biggest victory yet in his quest to bring the 2016 Olympics to Chicago, Mayor Richard M. Daley called the event a “homecoming,” and rightfully so. Ray Orozco of the Office of Emergency Management said, “The events that have transpired in this city and will continue to shows Chicago’s ability to handle large-scale events,” according to the Chicago Sun-Times. Orozco is right. The way Chicagoans handled the event demonstrated that Chicago’s citizens are prepared for a large-scale event, and that the city actually is capable of keeping the peace and creating a sense of organization.

Officials had a thorough plan before the big day, and although they were able to stick with it for the most part, they were also incredibly flexible and evaluated each new development that was thrown at them. When lines to enter the rally grew alarmingly long in the afternoon, hours before crowds were expected to enter at 8:30 p.m., barricades were slowly opened and attendees were allowed to enter in an orderly fashion.

So now, with the nation’s next president hailing from Chicago and the event in Grant Park going off without any major hitches, the heat is on. Chicago will be at the forefront of the nation’s and the world’s largest cities.

The festivities showcased the beauty the city has to offer, both aesthetically in its impeccable skyline and figuratively in the aura of unity its people emit. Even in the days after, pure joy was in the air as Chicagoans glowed with pride for its hometown hero.

Chicago may never be the same, as its reputation as a thriving and expanding city becomes even more evident in the years to come. President-Elect Obama aims to guide the country in a new, better direction, and it looks like the city of Chicago is headed in with him.

Yes, we did.