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Diverse crowd celebrates Obama at theater in Flushing Town Hall

“I’m just so happy. I think America is back.”

Free Synagogue of Flushing Rabbi Michael Weisser was one of more than 100 northern Queens residents who sat, stone silent at Flushing Town Hall theatre as President Barack Obama took his oath of office.

“Until the president was sworn in, I still didn’t quite believe it,” said Weisser.

Cheers of unabashed elation rang through the theatre as Obama, the first black president in U.S. history, finished his oath, officially becoming the 44th president.

During his inauguration speech, Obama spoke about America’s “patchwork heritage,” which was clearly present Tuesday in Queens, the most diverse county in the country. Residents of Chinese, Korean, Indian, Sikh and European descent watched the ceremony at Flushing Town Hall.

“It is such a good day for America,” said Sarwa Singh, a Flushing resident. “For immigrants, for minorities, for the country. Just for everyone. So good, so great.”

Flushing’s youth were also represented as students from St. Michael’s Catholic School and Flushing High School filled in about half the audience for a live lesson in American history.

Flushing resident Cynthia Lashley and husband Walter Polt wept together as they listened to Obama speak. Lashley said the couple were the first to show up at their polling place to vote in the Nov. 4 election.

“I carried an American flag with me all day. “It somehow became my country that day,” Lashley, who is black, said. “It’s like a dream.”

“The greatness that’s showing up right now in the world, I’m just in awe of it,” said Polt, who is white.

Wiping away tears, Astoria resident Carmen Wynder said she was overjoyed.

“The picture he is painting is so beautiful. It’s something that’s worth going out there and trying to achieve,” she said.

Reach reporter Stephen Stirling by e−mail at sstirling@timesledger.com or by phone at 718−229−0300, Ext. 138.

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