Thursday, November 06, 2008

the president-elect's first foreign visit

Welcome Back America - The President-Elect in Person...
TORONTO - United States President-Elect Barack Obama took little time in making his first foreign visit after he was declared the victor in Tuesday night's election. Shortly before speaking before an excited crowd in Chicago's Grant Park, Obama made a lightning-fast stop in Toronto's Dundas Square to greet enthusiastic local supporters.

Welcome Back America - Bowing to Barack
Mr. Obama did not utter a word during his visit. Secret service officials allowed the crowd to rushed up to Mr. Obama to have their picture taken with him. After several hundred snapshots were taken, the President-Elect rushed back to Chicago.

The gathering, dubbed "Welcome Back America", was organized via Spacing magazine and a Facebook thread. Several hundred showed up, nearly all excited about the turfing of the Republicans from the Oval Office. One exception was a derelict who walked up to several people in the crowd to dampen their enthusiasm. Identifying himself as a Communist, he proceed to launch a spiel on the military-industrial complex before heaping insults on a nearby friend, who he described as a "crackhead." Attempts to engage the man in a political discussion led him to wander away.

As the billboards in the square were not tuned into coverage of the election, the crowd had to rely on radio reports to stay on top on breaking news. This barely dimmed the joy of the crowd, who at various points started a conga line, broke out a bottle of champagne, and danced to music inspired by Mr. Obama. Economic realities, controversial state propositions and other concerns would have to wait for another day - the night was a chance to let go of the frustration with the Bush administration and feel a glimmer of hope for Canada's neighbour.

For a sample of photos, see Torontoist and personal Flickr sites such as this.

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