From the monolithic high-definition screens at Victory Park this morning, Rick Warren prayed; Aretha Franklin belted out "My Country, 'Tis of Thee" from beneath a killer hat; and Joe Biden became VP. The crowd of locals -- a few hundred gathered in the sunshine at one end of the square, trying to keep warm against the chilly wind -- fell silent when Yo-Yo Ma played the cello.

President Obama Takes Over Victory Park

"It's a great day," said Frederick Malone, 54, who wore a bright red hooded sweatshirt cinched tightly around his face. "I never thought I'd see it happen."

Still, Malone's hopes for change were tempered by realism. "It's going to be hard," he said, shaking his head gravely. "Changes don't come easy. He's got a tough job ahead of him."

Then, finally, Barack Obama took his place at the dais. "My fellow citizens," the president began to raucous cheers from the crowds of Dallasites. "I stand here today, humbled by the task before us ..." After the speech, adults continued to cheer for minutes, snapping photos and smiling at the larger-than-life image of Obama, while their kids played restlessly around the flowerbeds.

Madigan McMahon, 9, looked less than enthused. She sat on the pavement wrapped snugly in a red blanket with only her face visible, and when asked whether she knew what she was watching, she didn't answer. Her mother, 42-year-old Carla McMahon, stepped in: "She may not because she's too young."

Jeffrey Sims, 45, pulled his kids (8 and 12 years old) out of school when he learned the school wasn't going to make the kids watch the inaugural speech. "I told them on the way over here that they might not understand the magnitude of it yet, because they're so young," he said. "But their daddy experienced racism, and my parents experienced racism, and we've come a long way in this country."

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