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Going To President Obama's Farewell Speech? Here's What You Need To Know

By David Matthews | January 9, 2017 3:53pm | Updated on January 10, 2017 8:26am

SOUTH LOOP — The president who adopted Chicago as his hometown said he'll be thinking back to his days as a young South Side community organizer "feeling as if my faith in America's ability to bring about change in our democracy has been vindicated" during his speech Tuesday night at McCormick Place. 

"Chicago is where it all started," President Barack Obama said in a video previewing his remarks. 

Chicago has long been the political backdrop for Obama, who worked as a community organizer on the Far South Side before being elected to the Illinois senate, U.S. Senate and the presidency. Obama chose Grant Park to address Americans after his historic White House run in 2008, and spoke at McCormick Place when he was re-elected in 2012. 

Whether you're heading to McCormick Place to see President Obama's farewell address live Tuesday or just watching on TV, here's what you should know. 

When is the speech?

Approximately 8 p.m. Tuesday.


McCormick Place's Lakeside Center, 2301 S. Lake Shore Drive.

How do I get there? 

Public transportation is strongly encouraged, and McCormick Place is near Red and Green line stops, as well as multiple bus routes. Click here for detailed directions. The CTA will operate longer trains on the Green Line from 6 p.m. until 1 a.m. to accommodate the crowds, and the #3 King Drive bus will run more frequently from 4 p.m. until 7 p.m.  

Do I need a ticket to get in? 

Yes. And if you don't have one, be careful about purchasing them through Craigslist. The Better Business Bureau says people are losing hundreds or thousands of dollars through fake ticket scams online. 

When should I arrive?

Doors will open at 5 p.m. and the White House encourages guests to arrive "at or before" doors open.

Roadwork on the Stevenson Expressway near McCormick Place is sure to delay traffic.

What if I'm running late? 

The White House says those arriving late "may not be permitted to attend."

What can I bring? 

Guests can expect "airport-like security" and are asked to bring as few personal items as possible. No bags, sharp objects, umbrellas, liquids or signs will be allowed in the venue, but "small" cameras are, the White House says.

Will there be food?

Yes. You'll find concession carts selling Connie's Pizza, Robinson's Ribs and others from 4 p.m. to 8 p.m. inside the Lakeside Center. 

What should I wear? 

Attire for the event is casual.

What can I expect? 

Obama told supporters last week he'll "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."

I can't go. Can I watch the speech?

The address will be streamed online at wh.gov/farewell and on Facebook.com/WhiteHouse. The speech will also be broadcast on television. NBC, CBS, ABC and PBS have all rearranged their Tuesday night schedules, but are only showing 30 minutes of the speech. 

I'm an Obama fan. Is anyone throwing a watch party? 

Baderbrau Brewery, 2515 S. Wabash Ave., will serve $3 draft beers during the speech. Renaissance, 4641 S. King Drive, in Bronzeville will show the speech on five big screens and serve complimentary food. Wise Owl, 324 S. Racine Ave., will have free parking for those who come to watch the address. R Public House, 1508 Jarvis Ave., in Rogers Park will also have a viewing party with drink specials including $2 off most pints. 


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