See How the Bay Area Celebrated New President

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    NEWSLETTERS

    Thousands gathered around the Bay Area to watch and celebrate the historic inauguration of President Barack Obama.

    In San Francisco, Civic Center Plaza was filled with thousands of Bay Area residents.

    The orderly crowd included plenty of folding chairs, strollers and vendors hawking T-shirts and buttons.

    Some attendees dressed for work, but other wore beads, flags and festive hats usually seen on New Year's Eve or Fourth of July.

    Tony Imperial, director of NextArts, the cultural organization that sponsored the event, said this is the only outdoor simulcast in San Francisco, and estimated that up to 8,000 people showed up.

    NextArts staffers battled with the screen, which suffered a few minor technical difficulties.

    Like many attendees, Aurora Wood, 32, said she wishes she could be in Washington, D.C., "but this is the next best thing."

    The Stanford graduate stood huddled with her friends eating scrambled eggs out of a Tupperware container she brought from home.

    "I love the poetry of waking up to a new era and watching the sun rise over San Francisco," Wood said.

    The crowd cheered as President-elect Barack Obama, his wife Michelle Obama, Vice President-elect Joe Biden and other dignitaries arrived.

    Imperial expressed frustration with San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom, who denied requests for assistance, including decorations and closing the street in front of City Hall.

    Newsom is attending the actual events in Washington.

    His spokesman, Nathan Ballard, said the office decided not to expend resources on an event sponsored by a private group.

    Imperial said city police, fire and other law enforcement officials have been helpful.

    In San Jose, Cheers erupted at the Mexican Heritage Plaza as hundreds gathered to watch the inauguration of the country's 44th president.

    During an event hosted by Councilwoman Nora Campos, city leaders and residents celebrated the swearing-in ceremony for Vice President Joe Biden and President Obama.

    Following introductions from Campos and San Jose Mayor Chuck Reed, live coverage of the event in Washington, D.C., was broadcast on a large screen.

    With palpable excitement, Obama's opening brought cheers, topped only by the moment he took the oath of office.

    The crowd treated Obama's inaugural speech as a sermon, answering with "Amen," cheers and cries of "yes."

    And as Obama declared firmly, "We are ready to lead once more," an inspired theater stood up and yelled with happiness.

    In Oakland, About 7,000 happy people at the Oracle Arena in Oakland gave President Obama a standing ovation at the end of his inaugural address.

    Bishop J.L. Bullock, who videotaped the event where television coverage of the inauguration in Washington, D.C., was shown on large screens, said of Obama's inauguration, "It seems like a clean slate and things have changed."

    Smiling broadly at the end of the event, Bullock, said the swearing in of Obama as the nation's first black president "is a momentous moment of time and history that no man, woman or child will ever see again."

    Bullock, who noted he was not affiliated with any church, said, "I just feel good we have a black president and he is for all the people."

    The Oracle Arena event was called "Unity for the Sake of Change" and was organized by Alameda County Supervisor Keith Carson and other county officials.

    At the head of the line to get into the arena when doors opened at 7:20 a.m. was Hayward resident Cassandra Kamara, who was raised in Oakland and attends the Acts Full Gospel Church in Oakland.

    Kamara said she got in line at 5:30 a.m. and said, "I had no idea the line would be so long, but that's OK.

    It's worth it."

    Kamara said she attended a Martin Luther King Jr. celebration at her church Monday, and people talked about the significance of Barack Obama becoming the nation's first black president.

    Alameda County Administrator Susan Muranishi said organizers sold about 9,000 tickets to the event, but only 7,000 people came through the turnstiles.

    In Richmond, an estimated 700 people gathered in the Civic Center auditorium to watch the live broadcast of the inauguration.

    Carolyn Smith, who was on stage before the swearing-in ceremony, said "My mother is 92 years old.

    I talked to her first.

    She said, 'I never thought I would see this day come."'

    "With an education I have the opportunity to be president, vice president, secretary of state, cabinet member ... or first lady," Carolyn Smith's 9-year-old granddaughter Rahdience Smith said.

    "We as black people have suffered long enough, and we're moving up," said Mary Head, 88, who worked in the Kaiser Shipyard with Rosie the Riveter during World War II.

    "It was a long-time coming," said Garland Harper, a Richmond human relations commissioner.

    "Change is needed in the house."

    People booed former President Bush and California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, but gave singer Aretha Franklin, who performed during today's inauguration ceremony, a standing ovation.

    The crowd cheered, stomped their feet, and waived flags as Obama took the oath of office.

    The event was co-hosted by the city of Richmond and the Neighborhood House of North Richmond.