You gotta get up really early to make history. Or, in the case of 28-year-old Tom Krieglstein, stay up late. Hours before anyone else thought to line up for tonight’s rally in Grant Park for Senator Barack Obama, the Wrigleyville, Chicago, native proudly took his place as the first person in the queue at 7:30 p.m. on Monday, a full 24 hours before the doors open for the event.
“It’s history,” he said, explaining why he showed up so early. “Having Obama as president is history, and that’s why I wanted to be the first person in line.” For two and a half hours, Krieglstein was the line, since his fiancée got sick and bailed on him. Then, around 10:00 p.m., a second person showed up. The #3 slot didn’t get filled until early Tuesday morning.
“It was a long night,” Krieglstein said, noting that police kept moving the first two squatters back every few hours because no one had figured out where the official line should actually start.
Krieglstein’s brother joined him eventually Monday night, and the duo took turns holding down the line and taking catnaps in the lobby of the Congress Hotel, across Michigan Avenue. Sneaking in to crash on a couch in the Congress next to a homeless person, Krieglstein, wearing an Obama T-shirt, said he’s obviously hoping for an Obama win — he voted early — but more important, he’s hoping for a new America.
“I wasn’t there for the civil rights [era],” he said. “But my connection to this is if I’d imagine 40 years from now that a gay man or a gay woman would become president, I feel like that’s what it’s like for Obama to become president right now. I want to be a part of history.” Krieglstein also hoped that a peaceful rally Tuesday night would erase some of the lingering negative image of Chicago that followed the riots at the 1968 Democratic National Convention there.
Krieglstein co-founded a company called Swift Kick — which teaches college students and administrators how to use applications like Facebook and Twitter to reach young people. He said he’s also excited because he thinks Obama’s campaign realized the strength of those social-networking tools and made them work for them to get out the youth vote.
“I hope that Obama sets a plan not just for America, but for the world,” Krieglstein said about his expectations for what he was sure would be a victory rally Tuesday night. “I feel like he’s showcasing himself and the United States to what his presidency is going to look like for the next eight years. And then Michelle Obama in 2016.”
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