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Posted at 4:30 PM ET, 01/20/2009

The Thrill (Without the Chill) of the Moment

By Anne Kenderdine

It used to be that if you saw a black president, you were watching the movies. But today, the black president on the screen in a SIlver Spring movie theater wasn't a figment of Hollywood's imagination.

At the AFI Silver Theatre, the main auditorium was showing TV One's live feed of the inauguration ceremony. The crowd of about 400 gasped when the first long shot of the packed Mall appeared on screen. Out there, people had spent hours freezing in the wind. Inside the theater, in our plush silver-blue velvet seats, we had the luxury of plumbing and heat, coffee and muffins -- even champagne. There was something a little weird about coming back from the concession stand, popcorn and mega soda in hand, to witness such a moment.

While the anticipation grew, some tapped on their laptops, catching up on work. Two boys under 10 played with their iTouch and Nintendo DS.

When Obama finally appeared outside the Capitol, people held up their cameras to take pictures of the movie screen. They applauded the new president's references to solar power and alternative fuels, laughed at the picture of Cheney in a wheelchair and yelled "Shut up!" when the TV One announcers talked over Yo-Yo Ma and the classical ensemble's entire musical performance. Surrounded by friends and neighbors, they rose for multiple standing ovations for their new president. Couples hugged.

In kicking off the festivities, theater director Murray Horwitz riffed on the phrase "moving pictures." "We're not likely to see any pictures more moving than what we're seeing this morning," he said.

-- Anne

By Anne Kenderdine  | January 20, 2009; 4:30 PM ET
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