Bicyclists raised and pumped their fists and whooped their approval down the middle artery of Pennsylvania Avenue from the Capitol to the White House as honking cars zipped by, many with Biden-Harris signs raised aloft through their overhead windows and blaring celebratory tunes like “Please Don’t Stop the Music”.
It’s quintessential fall in DC– 70 degrees, the only stain in the sky two jet streams to the southwest toward Reagan National Airport. When you look south, everything has a misty yellow sheen from the sun.
A young woman in jogging shorts, a Biden-Harris T shirt, and a Biden-Harris flag skips up to a friend at the fenced perimeter of the White House and says “Happy Birthday! Best birthday ever, right?”
Further on a guy with a “Baby Donald Trump” helium balloon was chanting on a megaphone: “Na na na na… hey hey hey … goodbye!”
A man on 15th St NW, three blocks northeast of the White House, was yelling, “Thank you, Pennsylvania!”
Dozens of surrounding people cheered.
That’s as close as police were letting anyone get on the west side – 15th St NW, an entire two-block perimeter around the White House, with a black fence connecting the surrounding granite federal buildings.
It’s quickly turning into a “darty” (day party) down here. Women with lipstick-stained red cups are unleashing the occasional “woo-hoo.”
A trio of young men dispensed with that charade and popped bottles of champagne as they posed for pictures before a Biden-Harris sign strapped to the temporary black metal fence on the north side of Lafayette Square.
“This is so much better than being at home where my parents would be like, ‘What the f***.'”
Someone set up a giant speaker system and was playing ‘We Are the Champions.’ There was a particularly loud chorus of voices when the song gets to the line “No time for losers”, one of Mr Trump’s favourite words for his political opponents but one that now applies to him.
Others were already looking ahead to the removal teams showing up at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue. “Bring that moving truck around. You know what time it is, bitch,” says a man from the fence at nearby Lafayette Square, zooming in on the White House from afar with his phone camera.
Americans from every corner of the country travelled to the nation’s power centre to witness the scenes outside the White House when Mr Biden was declared the winner.
Sonya Mishra and Arjun Iyengar live in Oakland, California, but they were in Delaware visiting Ms Mishra’s parents. They decided to take advantage of being on the East Coast and make the quick trip down to DC to visit their two friends this weekend.
When Mr Biden was declared the winner on Saturday, they poured their mixed drinks in red plastic cups, snagged a bottle of champagne, and headed to join the party at Lafayette Square.
“Four years ago, I felt like I had literally been stabbed,” Ms Mishra said.
She had been working as an investment banker in the Bay Area and most of her co-workers were Trump supporters, she recalled.
“They brought balloons to work the next day. And it was just like a celebration of hate. It was permitting hate. And now we’re rejecting hate.”
This time around, it was her turn to celebrate.
Seconds earlier, she and Mr Iyengar had been the centre of attention with people whooping and hollering as they popped the champagne bottle and posed for photographers in front of a Biden-Harris sign clipped to the black chain fence surrounding Lafayette Square.
Ms Mishra marvelled at the celebratory spirit outside the White House. Everyone wearing masks. No one holding guns. A stark contrast to the pro-Trump demonstrations outside county election offices all across the country this week.
“We’re celebrating, but we’re also, like, acknowledging science,” Ms Mishra said.
Mr Iyengar said he interpreted the scene unfolding outside the White House – where Mr Trump and his advisers have been holed up over the last week refusing to concede the election over unsubstantiated voter fraud claims – as less of a celebration of what’s to come in the US and more of a rejection of the last four years.
“We have a lot more work to do. But this is a huge, huge step towards getting rid of just really toxic behaviour from the position that’s supposed to give us leadership.”
By 1pm a rap and go-go concert was bouncing on the southwest corner of McPherson Square. Two elderly black women in lawn chairs sipped wine from plastic cups as they rocked to the rhythm.
Ten feet away a young man leaning against the facade of the United Mine Workers of America Building was openly dragging his tongue along the seal of a (particularly fat and dank-smelling) marijuana joint.
Raelyn Maxwell flew into DC from Wasatch County, Utah, earlier in the week and has been camped out in front of Lafayette Square for three days, since Election Day, waiting for this moment.
“I wanted to be here the day he got fired,” Ms Maxwell said.
“I was here, I protested his inauguration, here on Penn Avenue, just down the street. And I was here for the … Women’s March, just a day later. I wanted to be here because I’ve spent four years campaigning and standing up for women’s rights and the rights of … our black and brown brothers and sisters,” said Ms Maxwell.