President Obama to deliver farewell address in Chicago

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President Obama's farewell address will cap off 8 years in the White House, and he chose his hometown of Chicago for the big event.

President Barack Obama will deliver his historic farewell speech Tuesday night in the same city where his political career began.

Supporters said they know how important this day is. Many started lining up early Tuesday morning to make sure they get a good spot inside the Lakeside Center at McCormick Place.

"This being his final address, I wanted to make it my business to be here, to catch a final piece of history," said Sam Higgins, who waited in line Tuesday morning.

President Obama's farewell speech is set to begin at 6 p.m. To watch it online, click here.

Elva Valdivia-Lynch wanted Obama's farewell to be a learning experience for her two daughters. Over the weekend, they waited in the long line outside the event center to make sure they got tickets.

"It was something we needed to do. My girls begged me and begged me. I'm like, 'We have to do this. I want them to remember. I want them to be engaged. I want them to spread that excitement among their teenage friends,'" Valdivia-Lynch said.

ABC7 Eyewitness News got a preview of that speech, which Obama was still working on Monday. The president said he wants to use this chance to say thank you to his supporters, highlight his success over the last eight years and to offer some thoughts on where the country will go from here.



Debra Larkins was first in line at 6 a.m. Tuesday. She said she was looking forward to hearing Obama's last words as president on what may be his last trip to Chicago while in office.
"This is a very memorable moment in our history. We have a remarkable leader. Barack Obama is a wonderful president and I really, really admire him. I really wanted to get a chance to see him," Larkins said.

Pearl Jam tweeted Tuesday morning that Eddie Vedder and members of the Chicago Children's Choir will perform at the event Tuesday night.



The CTA plans to operate longer trains until 1 a.m. The Shedd Aquarium, Field Museum and Adler Planetarium will close before 2 p.m. to ease traffic and allow security to move in.

Cermak Road between Indiana and Calumet is closed to cars and pedestrians due to high winds and local detours will be in effect, McCormick Place announced. Drivers who plan on parking in Lot A are asked to enter through 24th Place.

Unless something happens between Tuesday night and Jan. 20, when President Obama boards Air Force One after delivering his speech, it will be his last trip as president outside Washington, D.C.

After the inauguration, Obama will board the plane and fly to an undisclosed location. But the jet technically won't be Air Force One any longer.

The president has said he plans to take Michelle Obama on vacation to a warm location after they leave the White House.

TICKETS DONATED TO WEST SIDE TEENAGERS

Some people who scored tickets to Obama's farewell speech donated them to teenagers from Chicago's West Side so they could attend the historic event.

President Obama is a role model for the twelve teenagers attending the speech. Jahmal Cole, founder of My Block My Hood My City, put the word out on social media for people to donate to his group. The non-profit aims to inspire teens from economically challenged neighborhoods.

"What better role model for these kids to see than a community activist from Chicago that rose to be the first African-American president of the United States of America," Cole said. "It's going to be a transformative experience."

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Some people who scored tickets to Obama's farewell speech donated them to teenagers from Chicago's West Side so they could attend the historic event.

CELEBRATING OBAMA AT VALOIS

Valois Restaurant, Obama's favorite breakfast spot in Chicago, offered free breakfast from 6-10 a.m. Tuesday in honor of the president.

"He never forgets anybody. That's the most important thing. He remembers his hometown. We as Chicagoans feel blessed for that," said Francis Carroll who ate breakfast at Valois Tuesday morning.

"Obviously every president has their successes and their failures. But I think overall, it's been a great run and an unprecedented one. Definitely one for the history books," said Shana Mireku, another Valois customer.

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President Obama's roots run deep in Chicago. He spent a lot of time in Chicago's Hyde Park neighborhood.



The restaurant closed early in anticipation of a visit from Obama, who stopped by prior to heading to McCormick Place around 6:21 p.m. O

Valois is just one of the many Hyde Park businesses the Obamas used to frequent during their Chicago years. The Hyde Park Hair Salon is another. The president is so attached to his longtime barber, he's with him now.

"People come in just to be a part of it. It's not necessarily about Obama. It's the atmosphere of the shop itself and why came into the shop is because of the comfort of the shop," said Antonio Coye.

President Obama started coming to the Hyde Park Hair Salon back in the 90's and developed such a bond with his barber Zariff, he regularly flies to Washington to cut the president's hair. It's a sentiment echoed by many of the barbershop's current clients.

"I come here because of my barber. Didn't know the chair was there or any of that when i first started coming but it's drawn a lot of people here," said barbershop patron Dwayne Fitzpatrick.

Hyde Park is without a doubt an Obama stronghold to this day. It doesn't take much to find someone who knows them from their time here.

A non-descript strip mall is where the Obama's had their first date, at a now-defunct Baskin Robbins. A plaque marks the spot. Amanda Englert used to work with Michelle Obama.

"I know them from the community when their kids were at Lab and it's sweet to have something like this, their first date," she said.

The Obama's Kenwood home is little over a half a mile from where the barricades are now being set up to receive him. For eight years, the stretch of Greenwood has been off limits to all except residents. Driving past it Tuesday was Elio Troncoso, the president's former masseur, who made frequent visits to the then candidate's home in 2008.

"I used to go to the house, twice a month probably. Michelle maybe once a month. I helped him a lot during his election. He was pretty stressed out," said Troncoso.

Like many in the neighborhood, Troncoso is feeling nostalgic.

"It's going to be sad to see them go. I hope they get to do a lot more things for the country now afterwards," he said.

AMERICANS SHARE FAVORITE OBAMA MOMENTS

With Obama's farewell speech just a few hours away, the White House asked Americans to share their most memorable moments of his presidency.

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With Obama's farewell speech just a few hours away, the White House asked Americans to share their most memorable moments of his presidency.

NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC: OBAMA AT SEA

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President Obama prepares to leave office with nearly all his moves captured on camera. But remarkable new pictures show him as he has been rarely seen before.



President Obama prepares to leave office with nearly all his moves captured on camera. But remarkable new pictures show him as he has been rarely seen before.

National Geographic shot images for their February issue, which show the president swimming in the Pacific Ocean, in an area around the Hawaiian Islands he protected under executive order.

They were the first photos of a sitting president underwater in the open sea. He grew up in these surroundings.

"People always ask why I stay calm in the midst of a lot of crazy stuff going on. I always tell people it's just being born in Hawaii and knowing what it's like to jump into the ocean and understanding what it means to see a sea turtle in the face of a wave," Obama said.

The president also credits his mother with helping to shape his love of nature. He said she was the kind of person who would wake him up to see a full moon.

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politicsbarack obamaSouth LoopChicago
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