A passerby might wonder at the unusually large number of people strolling about Union Square at 7:45 a.m. on Sunday morning. Fifty to sixty people milled about, chatting and people watching. A girl leaned on a kiosk post reading a book. A group of girls held up a map of New York City, appearing to be lost. Most in the diverse crowd looked to be in their twenties or thirties, though a few older couples and a mother and her two young sons joined in as well. Many sported telltale Obama buttons.
A man with a white loudspeaker gave instructions to the crowd on the south side of Union Square, while several cameras were perched on the roof of Filene’s Basement across 14th Street and two police cars and an ambulance stood by. On command, the bystanders made their way briskly into formation: at the base of the steps leading to the square’s park, they formed the letters O-B-A-M-A. After a second, they raise their arms, shouted, “Obama!” and broke into cheers. The video shoot was independent of the Obama campaign.
On subsequent takes, the crowd got excited, repeating the Obama campaign chant, “Yes we can!” When a passing truck driver honked his horn repeatedly, the crowd erupted in cheers. By 8:15 a.m., Union Square’s vendors were setting up shop, oblivious to the commotion only feet away. After the final take, the crowd dispersed almost immediately, blending into the city’s morning bustle.