A wave of euphoria flooded much of New York City on Saturday as major news networks began projecting that former Vice President Joe Biden would win enough electoral votes to defeat President Donald Trump, bringing closure to a high-turnout election that kept anxious Americans in suspense as results trickled in over the course of four fraught days. Drivers honked in celebration as people cheered on bridges, parks, sidewalks, and in some places filling the streets with spontaneous dance parties that raged long into the night.
Construction worker Nigel Cooper said he was just getting off of his shift when he saw throngs of people celebrating at a victory march in midtown.
"To come out and see my city New York stand out, come out and support Biden, its a wonderful feeling," Cooper said. "A wonderful, wonderful feeling."
Cooper said he was too tired to join the outdoor demonstrations, though he cheered from the sidelines. (He planned to celebrate with a cold drink as soon as he got home.)
In Fort Greene, filmmaker Spike Lee was one of many New Yorkers seen popping bottles of bubbly in the streets.
Trump's defeat was especially meaningful for immigrants' rights groups that have fought the administration's anti-immigrant policies. At the midtown march, Make The Road activist Yatziri Tovar said, "This is a moment right now of victory. We're celebrating and taking the streets. But it's not enough. Our work doesn't end here... Now we have to make sure these promises are delivered to our community."
Tovar, a former DACA recipient who lives in the Bronx, says her group is now focused on making sure the Biden administration stops separating immigrant families.
Across the city, New Yorkers said the widespread jubilation was unlike anything they had ever seen. In Washington Square Park, crowds that swelled throughout the day chanted "Trump Got Fired!" among other things, and Grand Army Plaza in Brooklyn was filled with revelers.
In Prospect Heights, the Stoop Kidz Brass Band — which formed during the pandemic — brought a booming soundtrack to New Yorkers on Park Place, performing Steam's "Na Na Hey Hey Kiss Him Goodbye" and blasting Biden's victory speech from the speakers.
Around the corner on Vanderbilt — on a stretch that is part of the city's Open Streets project — more gathered to dance the night away. Champagne bottles and cans of White Claw overflowed from the trash bins by 10 p.m., as people of all ages continued to party in the streets, at one point clearing a path and cheering for a bike parade that was rolling through. Earlier in the day, the St. James Joy organizers brought their jubilant social distance dance party to the area.
Some revelers seemed as thrilled with Trump's loss as they were by Biden's win. As the NY Times put it, "people have not historically hustled to spontaneous outdoor dance parties for Joe Biden... [but] it seems that defeating President Trump can do strange things for a man’s reputation."
And many expressed their joy at the election of Biden's running mate Kamala Harris, the daughter of immigrants who will be America's first female Vice President and person of color to hold that office.
In a victory speech in Wilmington, Delaware on Saturday night, Harris talked about her history-making journey. Referring to her mother, Shyamala Gopalan Harris, the Vice President-elect said, "She maybe didn’t imagine quite this moment. But she believed so deeply in an America where a moment like this is possible, and so I am thinking about her and about the generations of women, Black women, Asian, white, Latina, Native American women — who throughout our nation’s history have paved the way for this moment — women who fought and sacrificed so much for equality and liberty and justice for all.”
Addressing supporters after Harris's speech, Biden said he hoped to bring Americans together across a divided nation. “For all those of you who voted for President Trump, I understand the disappointment tonight,” Biden said. “I’ve lost a couple times myself. But now, let’s give each other a chance. It’s time to put away the harsh rhetoric, lower the temperature, see each other again, listen to each other again. This is the time to heal in America.”
Watch Biden and Harris's speeches in full:
With George Joseph and Jen Carlson