Friday: The Calm Before The Storm
Following Election Day, the first part of many American’s morning routines was checking their phones to see if more poll results had come in. On Friday morning, when Pennsylvania flipped from Red to Blue, many realized the final results would be coming soon. Delawareans across the city packed up a mask and hand sanitizer, and headed to the Riverfront.
Upon arrival, traffic was heavier than usual. The perimeter of the Chase Center and Frawley Stadium were gated off, but the road was open for you to drive through and get an up-close look of the Biden/Harris stage setup. The foot traffic on Justison street was lively, with people carrying signs, wearing campaign t-shirts, and, in some cases, people that could only be assumed to be reporters, walking briskly with equipment bags strapped to their backs. There hadn’t been that many people out and about on the Riverfront since before the pandemic began in March.
Beyond the gated perimeter, the Riverfront Shops parking lot was full of reporters and supporters all milling about. Press from around the world were sitting in our small city’s parking lot, frantically going from person to person to get their thoughts on the election.
We spoke to a couple of people near us. One reported he had driven down from Scranton, PA, and had been staked out since Wednesday. Another couple of women had driven from Massachusetts to Washington D.C. on Election Day and had stopped off in Wilmington on Thursday and had stayed since. “I’ve never been here before, but it’s really nice!” She mentioned. “The handful of us who have been here all week, have made friends, and can’t wait to celebrate when Joe wins!”
Friday night concluded without a projected winner, but the crowd that had assembled cheered on the motorcades that passed by and crowded around phones and car radios to hear Former Vice President Biden’s address.
The following morning is when the real festivities kicked off. Around 11:30 the news broke to the world, “Joe Biden Elected President.” As you entered the city limits, choruses of car horns, yelling, and clapping began to ring out. At red lights, people blasted “Celebration” by Kool and the Gang and lifted Biden/Harris signs out of their cars. The first person we encountered after parking on the Riverfront said, “I’m smiling so hard under this mask, I can’t take it!”
While waiting at the intersection of Justison and Beech Street, the celebrations continued, with lines of cars honking their horns as they headed towards the drive-through experience. Before crossing the street, an older man turned and said, “It’s a great day for Wilmington, isn’t it?” The majority of the crowd wore Biden campaign merchandise or the color blue, gleefully walking by with signs, balloons, flags, and more.
At HQ outside of the gates, reporters were back at it, filming and photographing the crowd. Groups blasted music and began doing “The Electric Slide” in the street. We witnessed the raising of a new American flag. One mom said she brought her children down so they could see the love and kindness everyone was showing. Nora, a nurse who works at ChristianaCare’s Cancer Center said, “It’s a great day for democracy. I’m just so glad we’ve elected someone who cares about dealing with this pandemic properly.” She mentioned how proud she was to see the crowd fully masked up.
Back on the Riverwalk, business was booming! Restaurants added extra outside seating, and had lines for waitlists and take out down the block. While toasting our new President-Elect and Vice President-Elect at Del Pez Gastropub, we witnessed their management bring their extra tables and chairs out of storage, and arrange them farther out into the courtyard next to their property in order to seat more people at a social distance.
By the time festivities kicked off at 8pm, the parking lot was filled with people. Wilmington natives and transplants, tourists and journalists- people of all races, religions, and nationalities danced, sang, and celebrated together, and then stood in silence together once the victory speeches began. The cheers for diversity and unity were loud. The happiness and comradery of the crowd were palpable. It was a true reflection of what Delaware, and the United States, looks like.
For those who missed attending Blue Rocks games and their fireworks this year, the presidential firework and drone display surely filled their cup (You can watch the display here and here.) This spectacle brought a feeling of pure joy and pride in the city. It felt “normal” in a way that many have not felt in months. Following the display, the city continued to celebrate, with a symphony of car horns and music ringing out, echoing over the Christina River.
Last week, while working on the It’s Time Campaign, we came across wonderful remarks from Brian DiSabitino on twitter, who said “We are a bright, vibrant and lively community that cares about our future.” and what was witnessed this past weekend is a testament to that statement.
Wilmington is going to continue to buzz as we see our President-Elect work towards his transition into the White House in January, and we should build off of the positive, hopeful energy that was experienced to help us continue to navigate through this difficult time with care, and compassion for our city and state!