SOUTH LOOP — Thousands of fans of President Obama jammed and snarled the South Loop and McCormick Place early Saturday as they lined up to get tickets to his farewell address.
The huge crowed turned out in 3 degree weather in the pre-dawn hours for a free ticket giveaway, billed as the only way for the public to get into the Tuesday night speech.
The streets around the center were bumper to bumper, as a 6 a.m. traffic jam took over the South Loop.
Yes it's 2 degrees tickets aren't available until 8a but this is the scene as we line up for tickets to Obama's farewell address pic.twitter.com/qYRL9x8RSU— Hercules Mulligan (@johnvmoore) January 7, 2017
McCormick Place tweeted at 6:56 a.m. that the West Building was full and if people were not already in line for tickets, they would likely not be available.
McCormick Place LOT A (West Building) is currently full. If you're not yet in line for a @POTUS ticket, likely no tickets available.— McCormick Place (@McCormick_Place) January 7, 2017
Fans from as far as California joined the line, which snaked through the hallways of the McCormick Place convention center. Some of the crowds bundled for a possible outdoor wait were relieved to find themselves in the heated hallways.
McCormick Place officials prohibited overnight camping and loitering at McCormick Place lots.
First tickets given out. Finally. People cheered. Losing their minds. pic.twitter.com/j3493Z9I6E— Anthony Balderrama (@anthelonious) January 7, 2017
Obama will head to Chicago Tuesday for his farewell speech, which will be a thank you to supporters and his thoughts on where to go moving forward.
In a letter sent to the White House email list Monday, Obama said he is beginning to write his remarks for the speech.
"I'm just beginning to write my remarks," Obama wrote in an email. "But I'm thinking about them as a chance to say thank you for this amazing journey, to celebrate the ways you've changed this country for the better these past eight years, and to offer some thoughts on where we all go from here."
The speech will start around 5 p.m. on Tuesday, and stream live here.
Obama ends his term as president and leaves the White House on the morning of Jan. 20. As President-elect Donald Trump is inaugurated, large-scale protests are planned in Washington, D.C., and in Chicago.
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