Fireworks, flags, face masks: Biden celebrates at drive-in rally

Peter HUTCHISON
·3-min read

Wearing facemasks and waving flags from car rooftops, hundreds of Democrats cheered every sentence of Joe Biden's first speech as president-elect at his victory party for the coronavirus era.

They sounded car horns and danced in the backs of jeeps as Biden told the drive-in rally at his election headquarters in Wilmington, Delaware that he would unify America as its 46th president.

"It's an amazing feeling," said 26-year-old financial analyst Juliana Panzera, speaking through her car window in the parking lot of the Chase Center.

"It almost feels too good to be true. But thank God it isn't," she added.

Children standing through sunroofs waved blue glow-sticks as older revellers wearing masks with "Biden-Harris" emblazoned on them enjoyed drinks with fellow supporters beside their vehicles, happy to break the six-feet rule.

"We're elated," said 32-year-old content creator Alexis Reyes who drove from neighboring New Jersey.

"We have been praying and wishing for Biden to get this win. I feel like everyone just feels a sense of like, 'Dad is gonna take over and protect everybody,'" she added.

For 59-year-old Pat Heffernan, the celebrations were third time lucky after he and his wife Debra drove to the venue twice earlier this week in anticipation of a victory party that never happened as the vote count dragged on. 

"We're having some drinks. We feel a sense of relief," said Heffernan, dressed as Uncle Sam in red and white striped trousers with shoulder straps and a flashing top hat. 

His wife wore a Statue of Liberty costume.

"It's appropriate because we're going to start letting immigrants into our country again," she said.

Some 360 cars attended the drive-in, according to organizers, which saw someone parade through the crowd wearing a Donald Trump inflatable baby costume. 

Songs including David Bowie's "Heroes" and George Michael's "Freedom" warmed up the crowd as they awaited the arrival of Biden and vice president-elect Kamala Harris.

The Black Eyed Peas' "Where is the love?" played as an election campaign video voiced by Biden played on loud speakers. 

The crowd roundly booed when the clip showed an image of Trump.

At 8:00 pm, attendees broke out in a chant of "We want Joe, We want Joe," and they didn't have to wait long for Wilmington's favorite son.

Cheers went up when the big screens showed images of his motorcade pulling into the venue a few minutes later.

- 'History in the making' -

Harris took the stage first before introducing Biden as "the next president of the United States" to whooping from the crowd.

Exactly 48 years to the day since he was elected a local senator, Biden jogged onto the stage to Bruce Springsteen's "Hungry Heart," giving a gentle fist-pump to his adoring audience.

"Tonight, the whole world is watching America and I believe that at our best America is a beacon for the globe," said Biden, who turns 78 later this month.

A canon fired confetti near the stage as Biden, joined by wife Jill, son Hunter, daughter Ashley and his several grandchildren -- along with Harris's family including husband Doug Emhoff -- waved at supporters.

An impressive five-minute fireworks show then lit up the sky as Tina Turner's "Simply the Best" and Coldplay's "Sky for of Stars" rang out.

Biden pointed and smiled as illuminated drones incorporated into the display spelt out "Biden", "46" and "USA". They also lit up a map of America in the sky.

For 60-year-old teacher Gary Duren, the coronavirus restrictions which had limited crowd numbers and forced attendees to bring their cars had not dampened the celebrations. 

"As a country it is the first piece of good news for a while. I'm full of emotions tonight," he said.

"We have a vision for hope again. It's history in the making," Duren told AFP.

pdh/dw