Chicago’s new mayor, Rahm Emanuel, was inaugurated Monday in an outdoor ceremony at Millennium Park. Chicago Tonight talked to some of the people who came to watch about what the inauguration meant.
Rahm Emanuel’s first minutes as mayor began on Monday after he was sworn in at an outdoor ceremony open to the public.
Thousands of people came to watch, either to show support for someone they knew or to be part of a big day for Chicago.
The Chicago Children’s Choir rendition of “One Day” by Matisyahu began the ceremony. The youngest Emanuel daughter, Leah, sang along. Vice President Joe Biden threw his arm around Emanuel before Mayor Richard M. Daley brought the Council to order.
Many in the audience jumped up and down trying to get the attention of friends and relatives singing with the Chicago Children’s Choir, which was a big draw for the event.
Melissa Hannon has friends in the choir, so she came down from the suburbs with her daughter to show support. Hannon wanted to see the inauguration, even though she isn’t a Chicago resident.
“I am excited to see what is going to change,” Hannon said.
She is reserving judgment on the new mayor until later, however.
The swearing in of the new City Clerk, Treasurer, City Council and Mayor were split up by performances by the Chicago Children’s Choir, violinist Clarissa Bevilacqua and poet Chanel Sosa.
Though the seats in front of Pritzker Pavilion were full, the field open to the general public seemed somewhat empty, as onlookers stood along the fence separating the two areas.
William Morris came to support his close friend, Roderick Sawyer, as he was inaugurated as 6th Ward alderman.
“He is a personal friend, and I worked with the campaign to help him see this moment,” said Morris, before the City Council was sworn in as a group by new City Clerk Susana Mendoza.
A huge Rahm supporter came to the inauguration from Johannesburg, South Africa. Marietjie Hildebrandt is visiting her daughter in Chicago, and came to see the inauguration out of admiration for the city’s new mayor.
“Leadership like Rahm Emanuel is something to aspire to and look up to,” said Hildebrandt. “I wish we could have somebody like that in South Africa as well.”
Whether or not they are involved in Chicago politics, many in the crowd came to be part of an important day in Chicago history.
This is true for Bridget Orsic, a Lincoln Park resident, who came to see her new mayor and new alderman, Michele Smith.
“We thought it was going to be an exciting new start for the city,” Orsic said. “We came down, it’s a nice day, to check it all out, to be part of it.”
For additional coverage of the inauguration, including Carol Marin’s panel on the dawn of a new mayoral era in Chicago, watch Chicago Tonight at 7:00 pm.
To see Emanuel’s many appearances on Chicago Tonight over the years, visit our Mayor Rahm Emanuel page. There, you will also find information on Emanuel’s Chicago 2011 Transition Plan, newly formed leadership teams and the latest news.