CHICAGO — Thousands of people waited for hours in single-digit temperatures on Saturday to try to get a ticket to President Obama’s farewell speech in his hometown of Chicago, saying they want to show their appreciation and soak in the final moments of his history-making presidency.

People began lining up well before sunrise for the 8 a.m. ticket distribution. The lines stretched for blocks and snarled traffic around McCormick Place, the sprawling convention center along Lake Michigan where Obama will speak on Tuesday night.

“You never know when something as huge or as phenomenal like this will happen again, so I was like ‘I’m not missing this for nothing,”‘ said Umar Ibrahim, 28, who took the day off from his job as a city bus driver to snag a ticket, waking up at 3 a.m. to start the trek to the convention center.

“Just talking about it makes you beam,” he said as he clenched his ticket, grinning from ear-to-ear.

Obama’s final speech to the public will continue a tradition set in 1796 by George Washington. It will be followed by a “family reunion” for alumni of Obama’s former campaigns, according to a save-the-date sent to alumni.

Obama has described the event as “a chance to say thank you for this amazing journey,” to celebrate the ways the country has changed and “to offer some thoughts on where we all go from here.”

For many supporters, Obama’s decision to give the speech in Chicago rather than Washington added to the significance of the event. It was in Chicago’s Grant Park that in 2008 he delivered his victory speech after becoming the nation’s first black president.


Only subscribers are eligible to post comments. Please subscribe or to participate in the conversation. Here’s why.

Use the form below to reset your password. When you've submitted your account email, we will send an email with a reset code.