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In New Port Richey, crowd watches and celebrates the inauguration at the library

They couldn't be in Washington, D.C., on Tuesday, but for about 100 local folks, gathering to watch the presidential inauguration on a big screen at the New Port Richey Library was the next best thing.

To be sure, this was a partisan event that attracted many who just didn't want to watch the historic event alone.

Some wept throughout the ceremony. Others applauded or stood up right along with those watching from the mall in the nation's capital. There were sporadic boos, too, for camera shots featuring members of the outgoing administration.

Fran Floyd, 73, proudly displayed two Barack Obama buttons on her maroon sweatshirt and nodded in approval throughout the new president's speech.

"Barack Obama is the best thing that has happened to this country in many years, and the fact that our people elected him is a sign that our people have come a long way," she said.

Lifelong Democrat John Giardina of Port Richey sported an Obama T-shirt and matching hat, and delighted in the fact that he was with "like-minded people."

"I've waited all my life for this," said Giardina, 68. "We're saying goodbye to eight years of ignorance, arrogance and incompetence and we're saying hello to hope, inspiration and truth."

"He's in heaven," said Giardina's wife, Darlene, 65. "It's a good feeling."

And even though she is a Norwegian citizen who could not vote in this election, Barbara Sycz, 58, of Trinity recorded the entire event on her white Sony Cybershot camera alongside her daughter, Aleksandra Sycz.

"I'm so happy for the United States," said Barbara Sycz, noting that her husband, who became an American citizen some years ago, cast his vote for Obama and John Kerry before that.

"We wanted to be part of the spirit — to be connected to the inauguration," said Aleksandra Sycz, 28. "There is a lot of energy about this. I feel it when I'm alone, but when you're with two people, three people or more, it's higher, and this is the day for that."

That sentiment was shared by many in the room.

"This is historic and I wanted to be around other people that were celebrating. I didn't want to cry for joy alone in my living room," said Angela Boyd, who attended Tuesday's event with Michael Hadley and their son, Colton Hadley, 1.

"It's wonderful that Colton will grow up for sure knowing that all men are created equal," she said. "It will be absolutely the norm to have a whole color-blinded generation."

And while there was plenty of hope, Boyd echoed the new president's thoughts on the hurdles ahead. Like many out there, both she and Hadley are unemployed and facing the struggles of providing for a family of five.

"I'm hoping that he really carries his theme of community service," Boyd said. "I'm hoping his supporters continue to stand behind him because it's going to take all of us. We have to fix our own schools. We have to fix our own economy. We have to do for ourselves. My hope isn't so much what he can do for us, but what we can do together."

"But if he wants to throw a couple of jobs our way, that would be nice, too."

Michele Miller can be reached at (727) 869-6251. Her e-mail is miller@sptimes.com.

In New Port Richey, crowd watches and celebrates the inauguration at the library 01/20/09 [Last modified: Tuesday, January 20, 2009 10:19pm]
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