26° Good Morning
26° Good Morning
Long Island

Live updates: Watching the Inaugural on LI

A round-up of coverage of people on Long Island watching the inauguration of Barack Obama.

Portrait replacement

At precisely noon in Riverhead, Suffolk County Court Judge James Hudson took down the smiling portrait of President George W. Bush that has faced the jury box in his courtroom for eight years.

In its place, and in the same frame, Hudson put up an 11-by-17-inch image of President Barack Obama. "When I was a boy the picture of the president was hung up in all federal buildings," Hudson said. "They're the leader of the free world and they're entitled to be displayed in a courtroom."

Times seem to have changed a bit in the eight years since both Hudson and Bush first took their seats. While the Bush portrait arrived via mail, Hudson said he downloaded Obama from a website and had the image printed at Office Max.

As to whether he voted for either man, the judge kept mum.


In Coram: 'We were a part of this'

Parishioners, neighbors, elderly men and women who attend the Faith Baptist Church's nutritional lunch program in Coram lined long tables covered in red and blue, decorated with vases of red roses and white carnations and little flags, all eyes on the flat-screen television and the images of the inauguration of the first African-American president.

"Oh look, here they come, the justices," exclaimed Gloria Young, 68, a member of the predominantly African-American church and manager of the nutrition program. "It's so exciting. We feel proud to be Americans. This is a marvelous country."

"It's a nice family, a nice black family that the world can see," said Lt. Darlene McClurkin, who is in charge of the rehabilitation unit at the Suffolk County sheriff's office. "Most black families are like that, but the world doesn't see us like that. They see the thugs on TV and rappers and that's what they think we are."

She motioned around the room, to the grandparents holding grandchildren, to the elderly women and the men in Obama T-shirts, the mothers and daughters who'd come together to see a black man become president. "These are people I've grown up with and we're all decent families," she said.

When Obama appeared on screen, the room erupted into cheers and applause, the crowd rose to their feet waving flags and taking photos of the television. "I love to see him walk, that confident walk, that Denzel [Washington] walk," said McClurkin, clapping and bouncing her legs in excitment.

They cheered again, crying out, "Thank you Lord," and men wiped tears from their eyes when a newscaster broke into the musical performance at noon to say that officially, Barack Obama was now president.

Lillian Peterson, 61, of Middle Island, turned in jubilation to McClurkin and said of the moment, "We were a part of this, we were a part of this."

At 91, Lillie May Johnson may have been the eldest present, and his speech, she said, "just made tears come to my eyes. He's so real in his speech that it just went right in me."


Best show in town

The presidential inauguration was the best show in town in Sag Harbor, and it was free.

The Bay Street Theatre used its 20-foot movie screen to televise the ceremony in Washington, and filled its lobby with red, white and blue balloons.

Every one of the 299 seats in the horseshoe-shaped theater was filled, and the crowd came early.

"We said we would open the doors at 10 a.m. People were knocking on the door at 9:15 a.m. and saying, 'Let us in,'" said general manager Tracy Mitchell.

All the theater had to do was turn on CNN and project it on the screen, but the crowd acted as if it were a live performance, Mitchell said. "There was cheering and screaming and applause. When they asked the audience on the plaza [in Washington] to stand, everyone in the theater stood up. It was pretty remarkable," she said. -- MITCHELL FREEDMAN

A crowd gathers at Suffolk Community College

There were few students in the cafeteria at Suffolk Community College's East End campus yesterday -- just the handful who had come to register for spring classes.

There were also a handful of parents, grabbing a bite while their children registered, and taking time to watch two small flat-screen televisions showing the inaugurationon CNN.

"There's just something about the guy that makes you want to hope ... he just makes you believe this country will get better," said Susan Davis, 49, of Southampton. "I didn't vote for him ... I just feel he will be good for everyone, rich and poor, young and old."

Also in the cafeteria was Jose Ortigoza, 55, who came to the United States from Colombia in 1990. His son, Leonardo, 22, had just gotten out of the U.S. Navy and was registering as well.

"I hope he changes the country. The economy is the first thing," Ortigoza said. "I'm a painter. If the economy is better, there will be more work."

A small crowd started gathering a half hour before noon. And a tray of pasta and a bowl of salad were brought out and put on a table, courtesy of the Dean of Students and the student activities program. "We do different events," said Mary Ryder, director of food services. This was her first inauguraton catering. "The others weren't history," she explained.

As the program went on and the nation's political leaders were introduced, her food was ignored. About 50 people were in the cafeteria by the time President Obama took his oath of office, and none of them ate, or turned their heads, or even spoke.

The crowd applauded three times, when Obama was introduced, when he took his oath of office and at noon when an announcer noted that, while he had not yet taken his oath of office, the nation had a new president.

Then, when President Obama finished his speech, they went to the back of the room, and ate. -- MITCHELL FREEDMAN

Hugs and cheers

Shortly after 12:05 p.m., about 65 first-graders at Westhampton Beach Elementary School stood up and faced the large TV screen at the front of class as Barack Obama took his oath. Applause and cheers erupted and two boys hugged each other. The students chanted " Obama! Obama! Obama!" a few minutes into the president's speech. -- CHAU LAM

Students get ready at Obama Elementary

The gymnasium at Barack Obama Elementary School in Hempstead was awash in red, white and blue decorations Tuesday morning.

A projector screen hung over the stage broadcasting news scenes from Washington, D.C. A cardboard cutout figure of Obama at a podium stood in a corner.

Students at the school milled about in awe, staring at shiny balloons and stars. The students wore dark blue Barack Obama Elementary School sweat shirts.

Workers from Party City, which donated the gym decorations, passed out small American flags.

During Obama's swearing-in ceremony, about 100 students will gather in the gym to watch. Other students will watch from classrooms or the library.

"Our school is the first named after him in the whole district," said Vesky Molina, a fifth-grader.

"In the nation," interjected Jalani Johnson, 10.

Formerly Ludlum School, it was renamed in November. An official renaming ceremony is planned for Feb. 4. -- JENNIFER SINCO KELLEHER

On the big screen at Cinema Arts Center

The screens of the Cinema Arts Centre in Huntington, normally given over to film ingénues, were on Tuesday devoted to nonstop inauguration coverage as the film center hosted a viewing party.

Attendees munched popcorn and cheered every time President-elect Barack Obama appeared on the theater's four screens.

"This is one of the greatest days," said Cynthia Chaffee, a musician from Huntington who was sporting an Obama pin. "We have an intelligent, educated young man who happens to be African-American, who is African, who is American."

Chaffee said she originally wanted to attend the inauguration in person but was deterred by the projected crowds and logistics.

"So here I am," she said. -- SOPHIA CHANG

Living lesson for Elwood students

For Elwood-John Glenn High School's senior advanced placement government class, watching the inauguration at the Huntington Cinema Arts Centre was a living lesson that was more fun than sitting in a classroom.

Though none of the 29 students, led by teacher Laureen Kennedy, had been old enough to vote in November's election, the excitement still galvanized a few students.

"I am so happy right now, it is ridiculous," said Ryan Sharp, 17, from East Northport, who was wearing an Obama T-shirt.

"It's a great way to get out of school," said Taylor Wiggin, 18, from Huntington. "I really wanted to watch it this whole time. I asked my mom if I could stay home to watch and she said no." -- SOPHIA CHANG

Cheers and other commentary in Huntington

The three theaters of the Cinema Arts Centre in Huntington were fairly full but the cafe was the liveliest, with commentary, cheers and applause ringing out as notable figures appeared on-screen.

Scattered boos rang out when President George W. Bush appeared.

"Grandma!" Shouted some appreciative seniors when Michelle Obama's mother Marian Robinson showed up. -- SOPHIA CHANG


- >>See celebrities at inauguration ceremonies

- >> Barack Obama's journey from 'Barry' to president

Latest Long Island News