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Oprah Fans Describe Scene of 24th Anniversary Party as "Bum-Rush," "Mini Woodstock"

The taping of Oprah Winfrey's 24th anniversary party will take place this evening at 5 p.m. on Michigan Avenue between Wacker and Ohio streets. The free public event—which is scheduled to include appearances from the Black Eyed Peas, Jennifer Hudson, James Taylor, and magician Criss Angel—had about 300 fans lined up by 6:30 a.m. And according to the so-called “Oprah Party Watch” section of today's Chicago Sun-Times, “early-morning goodwill” among fans “started to fade” quickly.

At 8:30 a.m. security guards asked the crowd to move to 425 North Michigan Avenue (about a block from where guests had originally congregated). The Sun-Times noted that a “small stampede ensued,” with fans racing to be the first at the new lineup location. Along the way, reported behavior included a man wearing a brace and feigning a handicap in order to bypass lines; members of the crowd also ”loudly questioned whether one woman really needed to use her cane” as she headed to a handicapped-accessible area. One elderly attendee, Laveta Mitchell, told The Sun-Times that the crowd “tried to bum-rush” her. ”They were very rude,” she said. 

Once they reached the line, audience members received stamps on their hands that separated them into different groups; those with a No. 1 stamp had been waiting the longest and would get to stand closest to Oprah's stage at the taping—at least, that was the idea. One local told The Sun-Times: “It's very disorganized. Half of us didn't get the right [stamp] number.”

The Chicago Tribune encountered some cheerier attendees. By 9:45 a.m. the Michigan Avenue crowd had grown to include about 1,000 guests. Describing the scene, Glenwood resident Sharen Hawkins told The Tribune: “People are nice. They're kind of pushy right now because they want to get up front. But what do you expect? It's Oprah.“ Another woman, who had brought two of her best friends to the taping, told the paper that the taping represented a “mini Woodstock" for her trio.

By 10:45 a.m. some guests had already been ushered past metal detectors and into the main stage area at the Michigan Avenue bridge. By the time the taping begins, organizers expect to see as many as 30,000 audience members gathered on the Magnificent Mile, according to ABC 7's news blog.

The event is set to wrap up at about 7 p.m., and The Tribune's television critic, Maureen Ryan, will be tweeting about it on Twitter all day. Footage from the party will air on Winfrey's show September 10.

Correction: The airdate for Oprah's 24th anniversary party has been corrected.


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