Reliving the Grant Park Election Night Countdown (VIDEO)

12/08/2008 05:12 am ET | Updated May 25, 2011

While the honeymoon for President-elect Barack Obama may be a short one, for now my adopted hometown, and America along with it, celebrate this nation's first African-American Commander-in-Chief.

As thrilled as the world was to learn of Obama's election on Tuesday night, the reaction to the news by revelers in and around Grant Park was transcendent. I was lucky enough to have a ticket for the official rally. Here's what you didn't see on TV: a quarter of a million people spontaneously counting down in unison while waiting for the West Coast polls to close.

It was an astonishing moment that hasn't been reported widely, but lives on in footage from hundreds of video phones and camcorders present that night. Giant video screens at the rally and throughout the park broadcast the CNN feed. At 9:50 p.m. CST and 50 seconds, almost the entire crowd--both inside and outside the rally--began a New Year's Eve-inspired countdown to what we thought would be Obama winning California.

The crowd roared when "Breaking News" appeared on the Jumbotrons. Then it happened. Those words melted away into "Barack Obama Elected President." The most momentous pregnant pause in history followed. And immediately following that, almost in the blink of an eye, sheer, joyous pandemonium.

Drawn from the YouTube feeds of five fellow Grant Park revelers that night, here is how we who were down there experienced the moment when America changed forever.

A big shout out to the Obama supporters who took these videos: Guys & Gals, yes we did! (And if you, dear reader, like the videos, consider clicking through to each person's YouTube account and telling them so.)

From jdmellin (watch on YouTube).

From tylerl82 (watch on YouTube).

From lackadaisicaal (watch on YouTube).

From jmsmcntsh (watch on YouTube).

From kmbst53 (watch on YouTube).