The Washington Times - January 19, 2009, 04:11PM

It was a much smaller crowd than the one gathered Sunday for the inaugural concert at the Lincoln Memorial, but the dozens of people awaiting an appearance of President-elect Barack Obama in front of the Sasha Bruce House for youth in Northeast Washington Monday morning seemed just as elated.

One hundred or so people, mostly from the neighborhood, had suspended their morning activities to stand by a corner of Maryland Avenue and try to catch a glimpse of the President-elect.


“One of my friends called me 30 minutes ago to tell me that she saw Obama going inside the Sacha Bruce House, so I came right away with my family,” said Evan, a father of two who lives a few blocks from the shelter for runaway teens. “I hope he’s going to shake a few hands. We’re on the front line.”

Most of the people gathered in the street had just learned about the visit of Mr. Obama to this racially mixed area of Northeast D.C. But  all seemed well-equipped to welcome him as the next President of the United States. They all had cameras, I-phones to record videos and Obama flags.

A group of young girls sang, “Yes we can, yes we can” in unison while others - waving their Obama flags - responded in rhythm, “Yes he did, Yes he did.”

The sense of enthusiasm infected even the security agents surrounding the area and blocking the streets, who offered big smiles to the passersby and allowed everyone to join the growing gathering.

“This is amazing,” said one of the security agents, hardly trying to contain people’s enthusiasm by keeping them on the pavement. The crowd finally burst into applause when, after 40 minutes of  joyful expectancy, they saw Mr. Obama appear on the front steps of the shelter. “Obama, Obama,” they shouted.

Mr. Obama seemed surprised to receive such a hearty welcome after what was supposed to be a subdued visit. He smiled broadly and took a few minutes to wave at the crowd before disappearing inside his bulletproof car.
Within a few minutes, the crowd had scattered. Yet, on their way back to their morning activities, people were still smiling. Walking home with his family, Evan said, “The city is getting back to life.”

Anne-Laure Buffard, The Washington Times