Wilmington's Riverfront is the place to be on election night for Biden-Harris supporters
Downtown Wilmington was almost vacant Tuesday evening except for a handful of police officers on Market Street and a few patrons inside local eateries and pubs.
But south of the Market Street shops, most with their lights out and a couple boarded up, the city's nightlife – at least on this election night – appears to be largely in parking lots near the Chase Center on the Riverfront.
That's where a growing crowd of supporters of former Vice President Joe Biden and Sen. Kamala Harris supporters is gathering in hopes of being part of history.
"I've been watching him ever since he started ... and so far so good," said Violetta Smith, who held a pair of mylar balloons – one with Biden's image, the other with an image of Harris. "I like what I hear that he's going to do and I'm hoping and praying that when he gets in there, first thing he's going to do is about the [corona]virus."
The Biden campaign's election night spectacle could be seen from afar, as bright blue lights lit up the Westin Wilmington hotel, with the Biden-Harris logo serving as an almost Bat-Signal for Delaware's largest city. A huge American flag flapped in the frigid wind.
Large screens showed MSNBC announcing the election returns as results were tallied. Red, white and blue cars were positioned in the parking lot of the Chase Center, though it's unclear who occupied them.
The festivities were not open to the public, likely due to coronavirus concerns, though a group of people whose numbers ebbed throughout the night waited outside Secret Service security. One man was seen holding balloons with Biden's face on them.
But security around the Riverfront was tighter Tuesday than it was the night Biden accepted the Democratic presidential nomination in August.
A portion of I-95's shoulders that overlooked the Chase Center had been blocked off to prevent vehicles from parking along the highway. Concrete barriers and tall chain-link fences enclosed many of the riverfront's parking lots.
Secret Service agents and local police are stationed at the entrances of the perimeter. Police are also seen patrolling inside and outside the enclosed area.
Journalists, including many from foreign news agencies, are lined outside the barriers reporting on whatever bits of news they're able to get.
Some of the journalists are even speaking to the supporters whose numbers continue to grow as the night progresses.
Many of the supporters, who dwindled as the night wore on, gathered near fences hoping to see Biden, who along with his wife, Jill, is at the Chase Center. Harris and her husband, Doug Emhoff, are also at the center.
Sisters Emily and Jessica Wong said they found out about tonight's event on social media and decided to travel from their Wilmington home to the riverfront.
"Once we heard something was happening, we thought we'd swing by," said Jessica Wong.
"Riverfront is home and that's where big things happen in Delaware," Emily Wong said. "And if Biden were to win this election, that's something we would want to be here for."
"We really believe in him and Kamala Harris," she added, "so it just seems right in our hearts to be here to support him physically."
Contact Esteban Parra at (302) 324-2299, firstname.lastname@example.org or Twitter @eparra3.