US celebrates as news spreads

Americans gathered in jubilant crowds to cheer, sing and applaud early today after their president announced that Osama bin Laden was dead.

Americans gathered in jubilant crowds to cheer, sing and applaud early today after their president announced that Osama bin Laden was dead.

One focus of celebration was the World Trade Centre area in New York, where the twin towers – destroyed on September 11 2001 – once stood in Lower Manhattan. Many there waved American flags.

The crowd broke into spontaneous cheers and song, including a rendition of Lee Greenwood’s I’m Proud To Be An American.

In Times Square, when a fire department vehicle drove by and flashed its lights and sounded its siren, the crowd broke into applause. A man held an American flag and others sang The Star-Spangled Banner.

And in Washington DC, a large group gathered in front of the White House to celebrate, chanting “USA! USA!” and waving American flags.

The crowd filled the street in front and spilled into Lafayette Park.

Will Ditto, 25, a legislative aide, said he was getting ready to go to bed last night when his mother called him with the news.

He decided to leave his home on Capitol Hill and join the crowd. As he travelled on the underground train to the White House, he told fellow passengers the news.

“It’s huge,” he said. “It’s a great day to be an American.”

George Washington University student Alex Washofsky, 20, and his roommate Dan Fallon, 20, joined the crowd.

Mr Washofsky, a member of the Navy Reserve Officer Training Corps said: “George Bush said ’Bring him to justice, dead or alive’, and we did it.”

The crowd began gathering before President Barack Obama addressed the nation at about 11.30pm local time (4.30am Irish time). By midnight, people had filled the street directly in front of the White House.

Some people sprinted on foot to join the crowd. Others arrived on bicycles, and some people brought dogs.

American flags of all sizes were being held aloft, worn draped over the shoulders or gripped by many hands for a group wave.

Some people climbed trees and lamp-posts to better display the flags they carried. Others without flags simply pumped their fists in the air.

Some people offered up the “hey, hey, good-bye” sing-song chant more typically used to send defeated teams off the sports field. And Parth Chauhan, 20, a student at George Washington University, blew a vuvuzela.

In Dearborn, Michigan, a heavily Middle Eastern suburb that is home to one of the nation’s largest Arab and Muslim communities, a small crowd gathered outside City Hall, chanting “USA” and waving American flags.

Across town, some honked their car horns as they drove along the main street where most of the Arab-American restaurants and shops are located.

At the Arabica Cafe, the big-screen TVs that normally show sports were all turned to news about bin Laden.

Cafe manager Mohamed Kobeissi says it was finally justice for bin Laden’s victims.

In Philadelphia, at a game between the New York Mets and Philadelphia Phillies, chants of “USA! USA!” began among the crowd at Citizens Bank Park. Fans could be seen all over the stadium checking their phones and sharing the news.

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