Four-year-old Noble Whitted climbed into the lap of his mother, Cylinda, as President Barack Obama took the stage Monday to recite his oath of office.
"It's Obama," Noble whispered to his mom, looking up in awe at the huge screen displaying the inauguration at a nonpartisan community viewing at The Nyack Center.
Nearly 50 people gathered Monday in a hall with Roman columns, some wearing Obama campaign pins and caps. Many were still snug in their winter coats, sipping on coffee and nibbling cookies, as they gathered for what they described as a "historic civic moment."
Sue Moss, 61, of Piermont, watched enraptured with her fingers pressed to her lips. She teared up as the Brooklyn Tabernacle Choir sang "Battle Hymn Of The Republic" and slapped her forehead when Obama stumbled over the words "United States of America" in his oath.
When the 44th president of the United States offered his inaugural address, the Nyack crowd applauded to phrases such as "Our country cannot succeed when a shrinking few do very well and a growing many barely make it" and "Our journey is not complete until our wives, our mothers and daughters can earn a living equal to their efforts."
Cylinda Whitted, a 34-year-old single mother from Nyack who recently overcame homelessness, said the president's words underlined for her that the American Dream is still alive and that Obama will fight for women's rights.
"Women, we work our butts off and don't make what we should," Whitted said. "The fact that he's bringing that forth again shows that he hasn't forgotten."
Moss said that Obama's second inauguration was perhaps more meaningful than the first because she felt there was even greater grassroots support for the president this time around.
"This second election is a real victory for the people," Moss said.
After the speech, community members stretched their legs and mingled a bit, talking about what they want to see during Obama's second term.
Wolf Hertzberg, 14, of New York City, whose parents own a weekend home in Nyack, said he was relieved that Obama mentioned green energy and climate change in his address. Wolf will be watching to see that Obama follows through with his agenda.
"He was nervous. We were all nervous," Wolf said. "He blew it [the speech] out of the park."
Meanwhile, Town of Clarkstown Councilwoman Stephanie Hausner was among the many from Hudson Valley who traveled to Washington to witness the momentous occasion. She said the crowd there also cheered Obama's messages of equality for gays, women and all Americans.
Hausner said she wore many layers to stand outside for the president's speech on the crisp winter day but found that the collective body heat from the enormous crowd was keeping everyone warm.
"We all have to work together. We all need to fight for what we believe in, fight for equality," Hausner said after the speech as she waited for the inaugural parade to begin. "We need to fight to continue to make a better America and continue to fight for peace."