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Several Hundred U. Maryland Students Parade Down Route 1 In Celebration Of Obama Victory

This story was written by Jeff Amoros & Michael Lemaire, The Diamondback

For the first time since the Terrapin women's basketball team won the national title in 2006, several hundred University of Maryland students paraded down Route 1 in celebrationTuesday night - not once, but twice.

But unlike past riots in College Park, these gatherings had nothing to do with Terp sports.

Two different spontaneous celebrations erupted, both commemorating President-elect Barack Obama's (D) historic victory. In each, neither rain nor police could calm the groups' exuberance over Obama's win.

The first group, consisting of hundreds of students, poured onto McKeldin Mall in the minutes after Obama's win was announced when voting ended on the West Coast at 11 p.m. EST. The impromptu victory parade wound through Route 1, Knox Road, Washington Quad and North Campus before finally petering out two hours after it ignited.

The excitement was palpable as several hundred students celebrated America's first black president, and many students - such as sophomores Udoka Idigo and Brandon Homer - made no attempt to hide their glee.

"As soon as we saw that Obama won, we rushed out to start on the mall," Homer, a letters and sciences major, said.

Students rallied in front of McKeldin Library, and senior biology major Caitlin Dietsche joined the crowd after hearing cheering in the library, where she had been working on homework.

"I heard all the screaming and the blow horns outside," Dietsche said. "I was at the women's basketball riot freshman year - that was a little more violent."

Students then began walking along Route 1, and passersby greeted them with car horns.

"Yes we did! Yes we did!" revelers yelled as they traveled on Knox Road before descending onto Washington Quad, where students from surrounding dorms spilled into the celebration.

"We heard them before we saw them," said Jake Blauvelt, a sophomore history major. "Once we saw them, we had to come out. It is just so fun and exciting; absolutely wild."

The rally reached its crescendo in the quad, after Terp quarterback Chris Turner caused cheers by setting off a small firework.

After leaving Washington Quad, circling around North Campus and returning to McKeldin Mall, the final members of the crowd dispersed at about 1 a.m., but not before a select few decided to brave the icy waters of the Omicron Delta Kappa fountain.

"It was cold," said sophomore communication major Jackie Basso. "But I am going back in, and I want people to join me. We have our first black president - how often do we get to celebrate that?"

Festivities began anew before 1:30 a.m., as a smaller group again descended upon Route 1 and were joined by students exiting the bars. The combined group blocked south-bound traffic, chanting, banging on passing cars and even stealing copies of The Korea Daily News from a Penske truck that passed through the mob.

The police began breaking up the crowd quietly around 2 a.m., but not before those present got their chance to celebrate Obama's victory.

"Look at what's going on, this is craziness," said freshman engineering major Kristen King. "This is my first election - I helped out in a revolution."

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