Last Saturday, UChicago students braved the biting cold of the early morning for a chance to hear President Obama deliver his farewell address at McCormick Place on Tuesday evening.
Some students woke up as early as 5 a.m. to arrive at McCormick Place in order to receive the free tickets. Although the doors were supposed to open at 6 a.m., the team organizing the distribution had allowed a line to form before then. Ticket distribution began at around 8 a.m.
Students described the atmosphere in the early morning as disorganized and cramped. Dani Plung, a fourth-year English major, said she waited in a line that led to nowhere before a friend directed her to the correct line.
According to some students, one individual falsely told others waiting in line that all of the tickets had been distributed.
“There was one person who was not affiliated with anyone that decided to walk down the line and loudly announce that they had stopped giving out tickets when they most definitely had not,” third-year Caleb Bacos said.
“I think that he was trying to get people to leave so he had a better chance. But he managed to get about a dozen people to abandon the line—and that was after two hours of waiting.”
The atmosphere started to brighten when tickets began to be distributed. Many of the people waiting in line cheered for those who received their tickets.
“People would come out and yell and everyone would cheer,” second-year Ellie Richardson said. “It was very cute.”
Plung expressed excitement about participating in this historic transition, but said that it was President Obama’s personality and character that ultimately drew her to wait for tickets to the speech.
“I think he’s been a powerful symbol over the past eight years,” she said.
Bacos said that he would like the speech to arouse the same hope Obama promised when he first ran for president in 2008.
“This is the last chance for 2008-era hope,” Bacos said. “And we would like to enjoy a little bit of that before we experience a new president.”