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Chicagoans celebrate Biden’s White House win: ‘It feels so liberating’

Biden garnered about 82% of the vote in Chicago, the city President Donald Trump has used as a political punching bag for years.

Chicago revelers celebrate Joe Biden’s presidential win Saturday near Trump Tower.
Chicago revelers celebrate Joe Biden’s presidential win Saturday near Trump Tower.
Pat Nabong/Sun-Times

Chicagoans took to the streets Saturday to celebrate the election of Joe Biden as the next president of the United States.

As the news spread, a party-like atmosphere took hold in many neighborhoods as people whooped, honked horns and warmly greeted each other on the street.

For many of the 831,000-plus city residents who cast ballots for the former vice president — about 82% of the Chicago vote — the election was about removing the sitting president who so often used the city as a political punching bag.

Hundreds of people gathered across from Trump Tower to pop bottles of champagne and bask in Biden’s victory.

“It feels so liberating,” said John Martinez, of Garfield Ridge, as he puffed on a cigar he’s been saving since Hillary Clinton lost to President Donald Trump in 2016. “It’s been a long four years... Today feels like the dawn of a new day.”

For hours, a throng of revelers lined Michigan Avenue, pumping their fists and waving pro-Biden signs as drivers laid on their horns in a jubilant scene not seen since the Cubs won the World Series in 2016.

As people celebrated, most were seen wearing face masks, a reminder of the struggles still facing the city and nation as the battle against the coronavirus slogged on and the city announced new grim figures in the number of new cases.

Similarly spirited celebrations took place all across the city throughout the day and into the evening.

The mood was exuberant in Lincoln Park as people rang cowbells from balconies and, in some cases, simply screamed for joy.

“It’s just wonderful,” said Marc Whitehead, 80. “I’m absolutely thrilled for our country. It’s appalling to think what our next four years would’ve been like under this tyrant.”

Marc Whitehead, a Joe Biden supporter, pictured Saturday in Lincoln Park.
Marc Whitehead, a Joe Biden supporter, pictured Saturday in Lincoln Park.
Madeline Kenney/Sun-Times

In Rogers Park, Biden supporters danced in the streets and held an impromptu parade. And on the South Side, people also were heard whooping and yelling, “Biden won.”

“We’re screaming and cheering and yelling with people because it’s been four years of really heavy stuff and this feels so hopeful and beautiful,” said Natasha Charleston, of Jefferson Park.

Biden’s victory brought a sense of relief to many Chicagoans, including Crystal Smith, 38, who said it gave her hope for the future.

“I’m just really hoping there’s more empathy and love and kindness,” Smith said. “We’re just missing that in a president... we just really need to start coming together as a country and figure it out.”

Mugsie Palmer Pike hugs her friend Sam Sandmal on North Sheridan Road in the Rogers Park neighborhood, where dozens gathered after President-elect Joe Biden’s victory was announced on Saturday.
Mugsie Palmer Pike hugs her friend Sam Sandmal on North Sheridan Road in the Rogers Park neighborhood, where dozens gathered after President-elect Joe Biden’s victory was announced on Saturday.
Pat Nabong/Sun-Times

History was also made Saturday with Kamala Harris, who became the first woman and person of color to become vice president-elect.

“It’s breathtaking. I cannot believe in my lifetime, I’ve gotten to see this,” Charleston said. “It should’ve been a long time ago, but it’s amazing.”

Mayor Lori Lightfoot said Harris’ election “sent a message to so many little girls and boys that in America, truly, anything is possible.”

“What we need to be focused on is unity,” Lightfoot said. “We must come together as a country to literally heal ourselves in the face of this horrific virus, and to tackle the hard but important work that can only get done... Make no mistake, America is back.”

Gov. J.B. Pritzker said, “America elected a President and Vice President who will lead with compassion, restore dignity to the office, and give us hope for a brighter future.”

Revelers celebrate Joe Biden’s presidential win Saturday near Trump Tower.
Revelers celebrate Joe Biden’s presidential win Saturday near Trump Tower.
Pat Nabong/Sun-Times

A rally that initially was organized as a Count Every Vote protest turned into a victory party for the hundreds of people who gathered for it in Union Park. Many carried signs reading, “You’re fired,” “Fund care, not cops” and “All kids know you can’t change the rules in the middle of the game just because you lost.”

While the celebration went on for about an hour, organizers made it clear that there’s still more work to be done.

SEIU Local 73 Vice President Jeffrey Howard urged the crowd to “celebrate today, but tomorrow there’s a lot of work that needs to be done.”

Chicago revelers celebrate Saturday near Trump Tower.
Chicago revelers celebrate Saturday near Trump Tower.
Pat Nabong/Sun-Times
Chicagoans celebrate Joe Biden’s White House win on Saturday.
Chicagoans celebrate Joe Biden’s White House win on Saturday.
Pat Nabong/Sun-Times
Chicagoans celebrate Joe Biden’s White House win on Saturday.
Chicagoans celebrate Joe Biden’s White House win on Saturday.
Pat Nabong/Sun-Times
Chicago revelers celebrate Saturday near Trump Tower.
Chicago revelers celebrate Saturday near Trump Tower.
Pat Nabong/Sun-Times
Chicago revelers celebrate Saturday near Trump Tower.
Chicago revelers celebrate Saturday near Trump Tower.
Pat Nabong/Sun-Times
People cheer on North Sheridan Road in the Rogers Park neighborhood, where dozens gathered after President-elect Joe Biden’s victory was announced.
People cheer on North Sheridan Road in the Rogers Park neighborhood, where dozens gathered after President-elect Joe Biden’s victory was announced.
Pat Nabong/Sun-Times
Katy Hogan rings a bell while cheering for President-elect Joe Biden on North Sheridan Road in the Rogers Park neighborhood, hours after his victory was announced Saturday.
Katy Hogan rings a bell while cheering for President-elect Joe Biden on North Sheridan Road in the Rogers Park neighborhood, hours after his victory was announced Saturday.
Pat Nabong/Sun-Times
Pawel Drozda celebrates the election of Joe Biden on his balcony in Buena Park.
Pawel Drozda celebrates the election of Joe Biden on his balcony in Buena Park.
Pat Nabong/Sun-Times
Supporters of President-elect Joe Biden celebrate Saturday in Rogers Park.
Supporters of President-elect Joe Biden celebrate Saturday in Rogers Park.
Pat Nabong/Sun-Times