Osama bin Laden’s death sparks celebrations in D.C., N.Y.C.

It started with about 10 or 20 people, when short of an official announcement it was still speculation.

They sang. Someone brought a flag. And it grew.

By the time President Obama finished his remarks at about 11:45 p.m. Sunday, officially telling the nation that Osama bin Laden was dead, it began a celebration that would last well into Monday.

Hundreds gathered in Lafayette Square, across from the White House, many of them responding to bulletins on social-networking sites like Facebook and Twitter. They chanted “USA” and they periodically sang the national anthem and “God Bless America.”

It mattered little that midnight had arrived. People bicycled into the park, they ran, some even emerged from taxicabs, eager to join the widening sea of patriotism across from 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue Northwest.

Crowds gather and celebrate outside the White House in Washington early Monday, May 2, 2011, after President Barack Obama announced the death of Osama bin Laden. In the center is Carter Moore of Vienna, Va. A close friend of his was killed in the attacks on 9/11 at the Pentagon. (Drew Angerer/The Washington Times)

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Crowds gather and celebrate outside the White House in Washington early Monday, ... more >

Nathaniel Thomas, 27, biked in from the Adams Morgan neighborhood.

“I’m glad this chapter is over,” he said.

Matt Krimm, 40, of Southwest Washington, said he had two friends in the military who died in Afghanistan. So upon hearing the news about bin Laden, he drove to the White House. As the owner of a D.C. cigar shop, Mr. Krimm was handing out a special-edition cigar, one of which he smoked himself.

“This is a vindication for what those guys sacrificed so we can be out here today,” he said between puffs.

By 1 a.m., the crowd had grown to hundreds more. And the rows of people once two and three deep in front of the White House gates had now suddenly swelled to 10 and 12 deep and beyond.

People waved or wore flags of every size.

Julie Olson, 33, of Annandale, Va., arrived with a female friend and wore a cardboard-cutout tiara and a red-white-and-blue checkered toga.

“I grabbed my picnic tablecloth, and she grabbed a box of Fourth of July stuff, and we put it on in the car,” she said.

By about 2:30 a.m., the crowd began to thin, but some revelers seemed determined to stay.

By morning, others had come to take their places.

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