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  • The night began at 11:18, the start of four years. Less than an hour later, thousands were running, honking, clogging the streets on their way to gather in front of the most famous residence in the country.

    People hugged and high-fived on Lafayette Square, outside the fence protecting the White House's north lawn. Candidate Obama would become President again.

    The plaza stayed warm despite the temperature as marijuana and cigarette smoke floated with flags and balloons above the body heat and drumbeats. Skillets and wooden spoons even joined the chants and cheers in a raucous atmosphere.

    Tree-climbers swung up for better views only to be pegged with a security team's flashlights.

    "You break that branch, you go to jail," the officer said.

    In a day full of political speculations, this was the clearest directive.
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