Chicago Rally Crowd Peaceful, Jubilant

Obama's acceptance speech was solemn, not rabble-rousing

It was a safe celebration in Grant Park last night, with approximately 240,000 spectators on hand to witness history in the making.

There was a roar from the multitudes at 10 p.m. when the race was called for Obama.

"Noone who heard it will ever forget the tidal wave of sound welling from the depths of the crowd that greeted the news that Mr. Obama had won," the BBC reported.

With 65,000 tickets distributed to the main event at Hutchinson Field, the remainder of the participants gathered to the north at Butler Field, where Jumbotron screens allowed them to witness President-elect Barack Obama's acceptance speech. 

The crowd was smaller than had been anticipated, but the city's police and fire department were prepared for whatever the night might have brought on. 

In the end, though, it was a thoughtful, solemn speech by Obama that brought the crowds to their feet and tears to their eyes.

"I think it's a great day for our country," one woman said. "It's a beautiful day. I think the stars aligned and it turned out perfect."

Another woman in the crowd, wearing a bright blue Obama cap, thanked God for allowing her to be part of the history-making event.

"Thank you, Jesus," she said several times.  Her words were uttered elsewhere, in the park and in American homes where an acute awareness of the country's issues of racism made the day a black man would be elected to the White House hard to imagine.  

It was a peaceful exit at the end of the night, with only cheers of joy accompanying the crowd's departure. 

No arrests were made at Grant Park, police said. The Chicago Fire Department transported only seven people to area hospitals for various minor injuries.

Elsewhere in the city, shots were fired when Obama was named the president-elect.  The Chicago Sun-Times reported Wednesday that people on the West Side were "literally dancing in the streets." 

"It was a night of celebration, not widespread violence," the paper said. 

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