WASHINGTON/PHILADELPHIA – Days of pent-up post-election anxiety gave way to spontaneous street celebrations as Joe Biden supporters on Saturday cheered news of his presidential win with a cacophony of banging pots and pans, honking horns and dance music in cities across the United States.
Rallies by hundreds of supporters of Republican President Donald Trump, who insisted on Saturday “this election is far from over,” were more muted in size and scope compared with the festive crowds that turned out by the thousands in some cities for Biden.
While there were some isolated instances of Trump and Biden supporters confronting one another, as occurred between two opposing groups of about 100 each in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, there were no immediate reports of violence or other unruly behavior.
The reaction to news that Pennsylvania and its 20 Electoral College votes had put Biden over the top — following a nerve-wracking wait for the results of voting weeks before and on Election Day on Tuesday — was almost instantaneous.
Minutes after major television networks called the race in the former vice president’s favor, throngs of people — most of them wearing masks to curb the spread of COVID-19 — streamed to the White House to rejoice outside a security fence as the sound of fireworks boomed in the distance.
“I was on the bus and I jumped off the bus to come right down here to the White House,” Washington resident Donna Thomas said. “It is something to celebrate. We have been waiting so long.”
In New York City, Biden supporters danced in the streets, cheered and banged on kitchenware from balconies, brownstone stoops and rooftops — hoisting Biden campaign signs and American flags in the air.
In Manhattan, a planned demonstration in Columbus Circle turned into a dance party celebrating New York and the election’s result, while revelers at Washington Square Park in Greenwich Village danced and splashed in the park’s fountain.
Similar scenes played from coast to coast, overwhelming what some backers of Trump had planned as a day of rallies in all 50 state capitals in support of his baseless claims that Democrats were out to steal the election.
Hundreds of pro-Trump demonstrators gathered in several cities — from the state capitals in a handful of battleground states like Pennsylvania, Michigan and Arizona to such Republican strongholds as Colorado Springs, Colorado.
But those rallies were generally smaller in number and in size compared with the crowds turning out to register their delight at the victory of Biden and his running mate, Kamala Harris.
Duane Fitzhugh, 52, a teacher celebrating outside the Trump International Hotel in Washington, blocks away from the White House, compared the moment to the lifting of an evil spell.
“It’s like a pall fell over the country four years ago, and we’ve been waiting years for it to end,” he said.
At least 2,000 people massed in San Francisco’s Castro District in a carnival atmosphere of dancing, shouting, and music blaring from car stereos.
Some hoisted painted paper mache likeness of Trump with the words “lock him up” scrawled on it, along with Biden campaign signs and American and rainbow flags. Even a handful of city traffic control officers were seen joining in the revelry.
Pro-Biden gatherings in the nation’s capital were among the largest and most boisterous.
In front of the White House, a man wearing a Biden-Harris T-shirt lit a Trump campaign T-shirt on fire as a crowd watched and took pictures with their cellphones.
In nearby Dupont Circle, several hundred people formed a parade, playing music, singing and dancing, and marched toward the White House to the sound of honking horns and clanging cowbells.
In Washington’s Petworth neighborhood, Kool & The Gang’s “Celebration” and Curtis Mayfield’s “Move on Up” could be heard playing loudly as neighbors hooted and cars sounded their horns.
In Delaware, loud cheers erupted in the halls of the hotel where Biden aides were staying. “Worth every minute (of the wait),” a Biden aide said. Campaign staff exchanged elbow bumps and air hugs in the hotel lobby.
Enjoying unseasonably warm weather in Philadelphia, Biden supporters cheered, danced and hugged in public. Jada Carter, 23, and her younger sister, Nyla, 11, chanted, “Na-Na, Hey-Hey, Kiss Him Goodbye” at Trump supporters gathered across the street.
In New Orleans, Dana Clark, an African American woman who stood in line for more than eight hours to cast her vote for Biden, all the while holding her 18-month-old son, Mason, in her arms, said she was overjoyed.
Many supporters of Trump and his running mate, Vice President Mike Pence, demonstrated their own unwillingness to accept the election’s outcome.
Hundreds gathered on the steps of the state capitol building in Lansing, Michigan, waving Trump-Pence flags to shouts of “This is not over” and “We will be here forever.”
At the Arizona State Capitol in Phoenix, tensions were running high as Trump supporters, some carrying firearms, turned out by the hundreds, chanting “Trump won” and “We will win in court.” They blamed news media outlets for declaring Biden the winner. “The media is part of the coup!” one protester shouted.
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