I bundled up last Sunday, got a hot chocolate at the Mocha Hut, and walked down to the Mall in 30 degree weather with friends to see the inaugural concert. It was my chance to burn out on the crowds so I wouldn’t feel like I was missing out on Obama’s inauguration because I had to be holed up in the office.
The spirit was euphoric. Hundreds of thousands of people crowded in to get as close to the Lincoln monument as possible. For me, that meant about 100 yards from the World War II monument (read: not close). On the Jumbotrons, I watched Bruce Springsteen, Bono, Beyonce, Usher, John Legend, Garth Brooks (and on and on) perform. There was enough room to sway, but not enough room to snake through the crowd. I’ve been to the World Cup and the Olympics — I’ve never been in a crowd that size.
What surprised me the most was that although people were bumping into each other, no one was irritable. Everyone was smiling — black, white, Latino, Asian, young, old. At one point, a black woman walked past and said, “We’re all uniting!” It was the first time since the aftermath of Sept. 11, 2001, where I felt like strangers of all races were making eye contact and looking to connect. And it felt amazing.