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Long Islanders gather to watch inauguration

The feature presentation at the Bay Street Theater in Sag Harbor yesterday afternoon was the second inauguration of President Barack Obama -- and the audience applauded, cheered and at times cried.

"I still believe in hope, I still believe in change," said Gloria Primm Brown of Sag Harbor, who teared up watching the inauguration just as she said she did four years ago when Obama was sworn in as the nation's first black president.

"I liked that he kept saying 'we'," Primm Brown said reacting to Obama's inaugural address. "I loved the inclusiveness of his speech."

More than 30 spectators gathered at the theater to watch Obama's swearing-in projected onto a large screen -- one of several events held throughout Long Island to celebrate the president taking the oath of office again.

At the Hempstead Town Democratic Committee in Valley Stream, there was a viewing party, and the Westbury Chapter of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People combined its Martin Luther King Jr. celebration with watching the inauguration.

The Brookhaven Town Democratic Committee and South Hampton Town Democratic Committee also held separate nighttime galas and fundraisers. And Obama's final swearing-in drew a standing ovation from some 300 attendees at Nassau County's 28th annual luncheon honoring King in Uniondale.

"Just watching it filled me with overwhelming joy," said Jacqueline Cooper, of Hempstead. "It sent a message that the first time was not a mistake, that Mr. Obama was never elected by chance but by choice."

At the Bay Street Theater, Tracy Mitchell, executive director of the non-profit said the organization decided to open its doors for the free viewing following the success of the 2009 inauguration, when the 299-seat venue was filled to capacity and they had to turn people away.

"Sharing historical moments in time with your neighbors just reminds us that we're all connected," Mitchell said.

Sarah Cohen of Sag Harbor, brought her daughter Anya, 3, to watch the ceremony hoping to start the youngster's civic engagement at an early age.

"I'm sure she's not old enough to understand it right now," said Cohen. "But I hope it's something she'll always remember, Cohen said.

-- With Sid Cassesse

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