Nearly 3,000 people marched up and down State Street between the State Capitol and Bascom Hill late Tuesday and early Wednesday to celebrate Barack Obama’s election to the White House.
Cheers could be heard in the area around State and Gilman streets around 11:30 p.m. By 11:45 p.m., the group of people had gathered on the 300 block of State Street and declared a march up to the Capitol.
Several Madison Metro buses were stopped by the crowd and forced to divert, though one slowly creeped by the crowd as dozens of Obama supporters slammed on the bus windows.
When the crowd arrived at the Capitol shortly before midnight, chants of “O-bam-a” and “Yes We Can” could be heard. Shortly after midnight, the chant of “Na Na Na, Hey Hey Hey, Goodbye” rocked Capitol Square.
After arriving at the Capitol, people marched up the steps, jumping and screaming about the president-elect. Traffic on Mifflin Street was stopped, and motorists got out of their cars to watch and smile at the display of political passion.
University of Wisconsin sophomore Evan Wallach, an intern for the Obama campaign, said the event started as only about a hundred people before multiplying to several thousand.
Wallach called it the “most unbelievable display of enthusiasm and patriotism” he had seen in his entire life. The smaller group sang “Star Spangled Banner” between yells and roars.
“People have taken to the streets with a goddamn American flag chanting ‘Obama,’” Wallach said during the march. “And all that campaign rhetoric will finally be delivered on, and we might actually see a change in this country.”
There appeared to be no one who formally organized the march, as people claimed to have come from surrounding areas, called on by the crowd.
UW sophomore Nate Zastrow said he and about 15 people had gathered outside of State Street Brats and began marching up the street. UW sophomore Nana Yeboah added he and five people gathered outside Palisade Apartments on Johnson Street and began walking toward State Street.
Dane County Supervisor Wyndham Manning, District 5, was found celebrating on Capitol Square as well.
“This is a great day for America, a great day for democracy,” Manning said. “I’m so proud of our country.”
Madison Police Department officers stationed near the Capitol said they felt no need to break up the crowd, adding that even if they tried, the crowd would have been too big to disperse.
As the crowd moved back down State Street toward Bascom Hill around 12:15 a.m., MPD officer James McDermott blocked traffic with his squad car to prevent traffic flow onto State Street.
“We’re just blocking traffic,” McDermott said. “It’s only about safety.”
Although the large crowd had dissipated by 12:30 a.m., cheers and screams could be heard in the lower State Street area until after 1 a.m.