'This is America ... dreams do come true'; Ceremony thrills thousands at home, in area venues.


Byline: Priyanka Dayal

WORCESTER - Millions of people flooded Washington yesterday to watch Barack Obama become the country's 44th president. Millions more would have liked to be there. But those who couldn't make the trip celebrated nonetheless.

There were smiles and cheers at the Hanover Theatre for the Performing Arts yesterday, where the facility's 2,300 seats were filled with schoolchildren and retirees, teachers and politicians. They watched the inauguration on a big screen, cheering at the first glimpse of the soon-to-be president. They cheered as he left the White House, entered an armored Cadillac, arrived at the Capitol, took the oath of office, and delivered his first speech as president to a crowd of staggering numbers.

"This is America, and dreams do come true," said a jubilant Scarlett L. Grein of Sterling, who watched the ceremonies from the Hanover.

Ms. Grein, 48, who is American Indian and Chinese, was one of so many Americans proud to see the first black president take office. She has shunned politics for the last eight years. Not anymore. "I wouldn't miss this for the world," she said.

Several Worcester schools allowed children to watch the high-noon inauguration at the theater.

Sixth-graders from the Grafton Street School were bouncing in their seats.

"It's a real historical event to have an African-American president," said 11-year-old Shyiesha Brown. "He's more of an inspiration. It makes me feel proud. It doesn't matter what color you are, you can do what you want."

Dorothy L. Dube, 86, sometimes pays attention to presidential politics, sometimes she doesn't. "This one I've watched all the way," she said.

"To have a black person as president is historic," the Worcester woman said. "I hope someday all they talk about is people, not whether they're black or white."

On a sunny Tuesday morning, residents of Central Massachusetts gathered in venues large and small to witness the transition of power that elevated a first-term Illinois senator into the White House. Some congregated in concert halls while others huddled around small TVs with co-workers and classmates.

Some attendees at the Hanover bought mimosas or Obama T-shirts. Many Obama fans, including 12-year-old Khalil Blyther, came wearing their own appropriate shirts. Khalil's oversized T-shirt had a large imprint of the president's face, surrounded by the word "change."

"This makes me think that I can achieve what I want to be when I grow up," said Khalil, a...

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