Celebrations erupted across Tampa Bay on Saturday after Joe Biden and Kamala Harris were declared the winners of the 2020 presidential race.
Less than two hours after the Associated Press and networks called Pennsylvania for the former vice president and California senator, sealing their victory, more than three dozen Biden-Harris supporters took to the streets — or rather above them.
They held a joyous rally on the Pinellas Trail Overpass overlooking the busy intersection of Tyrone Boulevard N and Park Street N. They cheered, waved flags and danced to Jennifer Lopez and one of President Donald Trump’s favorite campaign songs, the Village People’s 1978 hit “Y.M.C.A.,” as drivers honked below.
Alexander McGreevy, who learned about Biden’s victory from his grandma Yvonne, showed up in a stars-and-stripes jumpsuit with a pride flag and a Biden 2020 flag.
The 24-year-old St. Petersburg resident said he was looking forward to normalcy and not having to worry about what the president says and does on a daily basis.
“There are things I criticize Joe Biden for, and there will still be time to criticize,” McGreevy said. “That’s not today. Today is a celebration.”
The impromptu celebration was organized by two groups: Pinellas County for Biden/Harris and Defeat 45 — One Protest at a Time. The groups had been holding rallies weekly, said Jason Toledo, an organizer with Pinellas County for Biden/Harris.
As he waved a pride flag, Toledo said he feared that Trump’s Supreme Court appointments threaten his marriage as a gay man.
Toledo, 37, said the group was also celebrating Pinellas County turning blue — though by just 1,200 or so votes.
As they cheered on the overpass, a small group of Trump supporters showed up with their own flags and speakers. One man wore a black baseball cap embroidered with the words “just say no to creepy Joe.”
Ray Rivera, 33, said he saw the president’s supporters gathering while he was driving. He decided to park and join them. The St. Petersburg resident said he believes Biden is too scripted and not genuine.
“I feel like he tries to play on the people’s emotions,” Rivera said.
For 62-year-old Biden supporter Cherri Klacsan, Saturday was an emotional day. Tuesday night reminded her of the night Trump won office in 2016. But she steadily gained hope as one battleground state after another turned blue. When the call deciding call was made on Saturday morning, Klacsan threw on her dirty blue ‘Joe’ shirt and headed over.
“I have so much hope for so many people who have been harmed,” she said, standing in front of a 5-foot tall Biden banner.
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Across the bay in Tampa, a group danced to salsa music and banged on pots and pans outside Casa Biden, which they billed as Florida’s only official Democratic Hispanic Headquarters for President Elect Joe Biden.
Organizing the effort: the Hillsborough County Democratic Hispanic Caucus of Florida and the Hispanic Caucus Casa Biden Committee. Their celebration comes after Trump and the state GOP made significant gains in the Latino vote that quickly turned Florida red on Election Night.
“My husband is a Trump supporter and so he’s not feeling too happy today,” said Cathy Varon, 60, of Tampa. “I came out here so that way I can let him be."
Varon said she could no longer take “the ugliness.”
“I’m very hopeful now,” she said. "I feel like I can breathe again.”
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In downtown St. Petersburg, about 200 or so gathered outside City Hall and the Pinellas County Supervisor of Elections office, which became a gathering place for the summer protests after the death of George Floyd.
But this time, the mood was one of jubilance.
A DJ spun dance hits like “Wobble” and “Cupid Shuffle,” drawing people to the grass to dance. There were snacks and Popeyes sandwiches, Biden/Harris signs and flags, and even though nearly everyone wore a mask, it was obvious there were smiles. The crowd was diverse racially and by age, with kids and elderly folks alike.
Many wore T-shirts and masks and held placards that said “Voters Decide."
“We feel like we decided our president," said Ahmad Albritton, 35, a St. Petersburg canvasser who worked to get voters to the polls, stressing the we.
“The people decided this one," he said.
Some were there to celebrate other victories, such as local candidates and progressive issues like the passage of Amendment 2, the constitutional amendment raising Florida’s minimum wage to $15 by 2026.
Caprice Edmond, newly elected to the Pinellas County School Board, received loud applause. So did State Rep. Michele Rayner, who won the Florida House District 70 seat in the August primary.
“That’s what happens when the people win,” she told the cheering crowd.
Brother John Muhammad, a community organizer and president of the Childs Park Neighborhood Association, said the community needs to take November’s momentum and keep it going into 2021. The office of mayor and three City Council seats will be up for grabs next year.
“Next year we get to pick our mayor," he said. "We get to pick some City Council members.”
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Another celebration popped up outside the Dr. Carter G. Woodson African American Museum on St. Petersburg’s Ninth Avenue S. Dozens of women performed the “Cupid shuffle” on the Black Lives Matter sign painted onto the pavement.
“There is no place we’d rather be,” said museum executive director Terri Lipsey Scott. “This is where Black lives matter and we’re here to celebrate.”
Manitia Moultrie and Marquese Cooper — both members of Harris' sorority, Alpha Kappa Alpha — attended the museum celebration. Cooper said she she felt chills when she got the text announcing the race had been called.
“I’m beyond happy,” she said. “It’s history for African American women."
”I’m positive about the future for the first time in four years," Moultrie said. “I’m super proud, overwhelmed” to have a sorority sister in the White House.
Scott noted the significance of Harris’ historic win for the young Black girls attending Saturday’s celebration. Sen. Harris becomes the first Black woman and first person of South Asian descent to be elected to the vice presidency.
“(These little girls) can now dream to be in the White House,” Scott said.
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