If anyone doubted that the election of Barack Obama as president of the United States was a watershed moment, the sight of him delivering his victory speech before an ecstatic crowd in Chicago’s Grant Park should have changed that. Although every politician’s victory is accompanied by jubilation on the part of his or her supporters, it’s rare to see the kind of public enthusiasm that greeted Obama’s win — and not just in Chicago, but around the world.
Here in Hong Kong, I watched the election results come in at a special event hosted by the Hong Kong Club and organized by a variety of American organizations. Most people were ecstatic when Obama won. It was interesting to be somewhere full of enthusiastic expatriate Americans but, at the same time, I wish I had been somewhere public. Hong Kong isn’t a city prone to spontaneous celebration but I would have liked to see the reaction of people in Times Square or Central as they watched up at the giant video screens broadcasting Obama’s victory speech.
It would have been even more of a thrill to actually be in the United States. In the video above, you can see a people celebrating spontaneously in the streets of New York’s East Village. Similar gatherings occurred throughout the city, including street parties in neighbourhoods like Prospect Heights and Williamsburg and, perhaps most symbolically, Harlem. “Obama win spreads joy through famously cynical New York,” declared a headline in the Daily News.
Last Wednesday, on The Daily Show, comedian Jon Stewart made light of the transformative atmosphere created by Obama’s win: “As you walk the streets of New York City, people are making eye contact and they’re nodding and smiling,” he joked. “I’m literally afraid that someone on the street is going to invite me over for pie.”
Tags: Celebrations, New York, Streetlife