Thousands of people lined up first thing Saturday morning to get tickets to President Barack Obama's farewell speech in Chicago on Tuesday - so many that officials said tickets were no longer available to newcomers before distribution even began.
Distribution of the free tickets began around 8 a.m. at McCormick Place, with one ticket per person given on a first-come-first-serve basis.
People were not allowed to line up before 6 a.m., but shortly thereafter, officials said they had reached 7,000 people and anyone not in line by around 6:30 a.m. would not get a ticket. [[409969705, C]]
U.S. & World
"This feels amazing. First in line!" exclaimed Kenita Christmas, who was first in line to get her ticket. "It's monumental, and to have my daughter here with me - it's going to be amazing." [[409969725, C]]
Doors open at 5 p.m. on Tuesday for the 8 p.m. speech and attendees are encouraged to arrive at or before that time. Those arriving late may not be permitted to attend.
All attendees will be subject to "airport-like security" and should bring as few personal iterms as possible. Bags, sharp objects, umbrellas, liguids, and signs will not be allowed in the venue.
For those who did not get tickets or are unable to attend, the speech will air on NBC 5 News beginning at 8 p.m. CST and streaming on NBCChicago.com.
Obama, in a written statement released Monday, explained that the American people have helped him lead during his presidency, a theme he plans to highlight in his speech.
"I'm thinking about [my remarks] as a chance to say thank you for this amazing journey, to celebrate the ways you've changed this country for the better these past eight years, and to offer some thought on where we all go from here," he wrote.
The sitting president offered encouragement to his fellow Americans, who he said have hit obstacles since he took office.
"Since 2009, we've faced our fair share of challenges, and come through them stronger," he said. "That's because we have never let go of a belief that has guided us ever since our founding — our conviction that, together, we can change this country for the better.
The U.S. president's farewell address, Obama noted, is a tradition that dates back to 1796, when George Washington said goodbye to Americans before transferring power to his successor, John Adams.