Tonight, a city celebrated in relief over what feels like a huge turning point in recent American history. We celebrated the beginning of what promises to be a healing phase in both our political and social spheres. What’s strange, is that we did all of this set against a bizarre backdrop of what has become the new normal in our post-pandemic reality.
As crowds gathered, they did so fully complying with mask mandates. No room for selfish arguments or ludicrous complaints about “losing personal liberties”, just care for their community. We shouted chants of “U. — S. — A.” through cloth-covered faces. Smiles were visible only through squinted eyes of ecstatic crowds. Families and friends celebrating over dinner and drinks did so at restaurants that have now claimed entire sidewalk spaces for outdoor dining by necessity.
Those making their way to Times Square did so tonight on socially distanced subways, walked through deathly quiet midtown streets, and made their way down a boarded up 5th Ave. while detouring around a heavily blockaded Trump Tower.
Apart from these grim reminders of the times that we are in, people gathered to celebrate the end of what has often felt like a stifling administration. The tangible relief in the crowds speaks to how much we’ve all felt it over the years. While so many shouted and danced to victory music, others cried tears of joy as they realized that their voice had mattered and helped to bring about change.
Tonight, the energy was palpable. Against the backdrop of COVID, I witnessed both the LGBTQ and Refugee communities come to celebrate. I watched minorities proudly fly our flag in a way that I haven’t seen in years. People proudly lifted scrappy makeshift signs to express what we were all feeling, “Love Wins”.
Hundreds of bikes poured into the streets doing tricks and donuts, and at one point, a red convertible drove through with Joe Biden and Yoshi waving an American flag. The crowd went wild!
It was easy to see and feel that tonight for the first time in a long time, we were hopeful again. Even while being surrounded by so many reminders that we are not out of the woods yet, we showed up and we felt and celebrated that hope together. Tonight was a well-earned celebration for the American people; a hope that the coming days might be better than our most recent past.