Coffee shop serves up inauguration rally

SOME OF THE 34 PERCENT OF the Mesa County electorate that voted for Barack Obama watch a CNN Web site feed of Obama’s inauguration Tuesday at Main Street Bagels. A cut-out photo of the new U.S. president is in the foreground.

Applause doesn’t usually emanate from the local coffee shop.

“I was wondering why everyone was clapping,” said Peter Howe as he popped the top button of his jacket and ordered a cinnamon roll at Main Street Bagels on the corner of Sixth and Main streets.

On Tuesday morning, the bagel shop was ground zero for Barack Obama supporters, many of whom campaigned for the new president. A chalkboard sign outside proclaimed, and welcomed all, in purple chalk: “Watch the 2009 inauguration here.”

Inside, a projector displayed a live feed from the CNN Web site onto a screen. A cut-out cardboard picture of Obama stood next to the screen and faced more than 60 people in the audience.

The gathering surprised some customers, but it was a pleasant surprise.

“We were just getting a cup of coffee, then we realized a historical moment is on TV,” said Joy Kohlman, a 22-year-old Mesa State College student. She wandered into the cafe with her boyfriend, Nathan Balderson. The two hung out in the back of the standing-room-only crowd and watched.

“As an American, I can say I saw this happen,” she said. “It is just a very interesting day.”

As Joe Biden took the oath of office for vice president, concluding with the words, “So help me God,” the crowd broke into cheers and applause.

It looked as though nothing could wipe the smile from Obama supporter Carole Chowen’s face.

She said she has waited for this day “to see the end of the evil empire and the beginning of our climb out of the dark hole.”

The climb for Obama, as a black American, has been a long one, Ellen Price said.

“Fifty years ago he had to sit at the back of the bus. Now he is driving the bus,” said Price, who was recording event at home on her TiVo. “It is a new day.”

After Obama took his oath, with a hand on Abraham Lincoln’s bible, the crowd let out a cheer. Some patrons, like Connie Rakiecki, waved signs that read: “Yes we can.”

She was there to celebrate “a realization of just hope and change for the future.

“I’m just happy I witnessed this day,” Rakiecki said.

After Obama’s speech, Lyn Fraser had three words to describe the event.

“It was great,” said Fraser, who saw Obama when he campaigned in Grand Junction last year. “It’s a great spirit of this whole campaign and election, the reflection of hope in this country.”

Warren Jones was one of the main organizers of Obama’s local campaign and, along with Sheri Cogley, assembled the Inauguration Day gathering.

Despite their efforts during the campaign, Obama fetched only 34 percent of the vote in Mesa County. But amid all the hoopla, no one could tell Tuesday morning.

“This is more like the cherry on top,” Jones said. “Today felt much more like Christmas than Christmas did.”


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