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Oprah Bash Takes Over Michigan Avenue (SLIDESHOW)

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Oprah's big blowout kicking off the 24th season of The Oprah Winfrey Show-- and shutting down a prime stretch of Michigan Avenue-- is officially underway.

NBC Chicago has a live feed of the cordoned-off Mag Mile party zone here.

Eager attendees began showing up overnight, according to the Tribune. The line started to form around 6:30 Tuesday morning and by 8:30 security was allowing people through checkpoints. The main gates opened at noon.

There was a bit of an early morning snafu when organizers told a crowd waiting to enter at one location that they needed to move somewhere else to get in. The announcement caused a stampede, the Sun-Times reported, as hordes of people ran to be first in line at the new location.

Things got a little ugly then, as people accused each other of cutting in line:

Nancy Linson, 54, of Elmhurst, who'd been walking the streets since 2:15 a.m. waiting for the show, said she was disappointed by the behavior of her fellow Oprah fans.

"I'm sad watching people be impatient and unkind with others," she said. "I don't think [Oprah] would be happy about it."

The event has taken over the Mag Mile, forcing traffic and bus routes to adjust. The CTA has an updated bus route map here.

Daley defended Oprah's bash --and the attendant street closures-- as an exposure windfall for Chicago, and Harpo Productions will reimburse the city for all police and sanitation costs. But not everyone is on board. City Council Transportation Committee Chairman Tom Allen said the the lack of public input on the decision "smacks of elitism" while ChicagoNow's Craig Kanalley highlighted a growing belief that the whole event is a promotional dry run for Daley's push for the 2016 Olympics.

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For those making the trek downtown, Harpo's audience guidelines are here. For those who aren't, the show airs September 10 on ABC.

A full report on the event, from the AP's Caryn Rousseau:

CHICAGO -- Thousands of Oprah Winfrey's fans gathered on Michigan Avenue to help the talk show host celebrate the 24th season of her show with a public taping Tuesday that included performances from the Black Eyed Peas and Jennifer Hudson.

"Hello Chicago," Winfrey said as she came on stage to a cheering crowd for a taping that will shut down the famous downtown street - known as the Magnificent Mile for its upscale shopping - to traffic from early Monday through Wednesday morning. "Isn't this the most fabulous city in the world? I see you all the way down the Magnificent Mile."

The Black Eyed Peas sang their hit single "I got a feeling" as the crowd performed a choreographed dance. Hudson, who is from Chicago, performed her song "Spotlight" as Winfrey stood on the side singing along and dancing.

"It feels good to be home," Hudson told the crowd.

Diane Stimson lined up at 5:30 a.m., nearly 12 hours before the taping started. The 43-year-old Chicago resident called Winfrey an inspiration.

"She worked her way to the top, and she made it," Stimson said. "She gives us all hope."

Winfrey's production company, Harpo Productions, said it would cover all costs for police, paramedics and sanitation at the outdoor taping, which was also to feature Rascal Flatts, James Taylor and magician Criss Angel. "The Oprah Winfrey Show" normally is taped at the Harpo studios on Chicago's near west side.

Several people said they wanted to come because of the difficulty in getting tickets for the regular tapings. Gloria Jones, 60, of Chicago, said she was excited because "I never get a chance to get a ticket, and I figured this is the closest I could get."

The special outdoor event took place on a three-block stretch of Michigan Avenue near the Chicago River, with two blocks of audience members. The taping was free and open to the public.

"She knows where she came from and she remembers that," Janie Wu, 31, of Chicago, said of Winfrey. "That's why we're all here today."

Chicago Mayor Richard Daley attended the taping, which he has said will give the city global exposure and create jobs.

It also came just weeks before the International Olympic Committee will announce if Chicago will have the winning bid to host the 2016 Summer Games. During last year's season premiere of Winfrey's show, 6,000 fans crammed into Chicago's Millennium Park as she celebrated more than 170 American Olympic medalists from the Beijing Games.

Oprah's Michigan Avenue Bash
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