Chicagoans greet Mayor Daley at open house

May 9, 2011 (CHICAGO)

People lined up all day long at City Hall for a chance to see the mayor in person during his final days in office.

On Monday morning, the open house was for invited guests only. But in the afternoon, the general public was allowed into the mayor's office at City Hall.

Those who stood in line had nothing but praise for Daley. While an ABC7 camera was briefly allowed inside the mayor's office, reporters were kept out.

Mayor Daley stood for hours shaking hands and smiling for the camera. The open house was the only event on his schedule Monday.

Arriving at City Hall at 7 a.m., Roberto Montano was the first in line.

"I'm going to miss him. It's the end of an era," he told ABC7.

With their special invites in hand, thousands of people with some kind of connection to the mayor stood in a long line waiting for an escort to the 5th floor.

Sanford Gaylord says it was worth the wait.

"As far as the way our city works, the diversity that's here, I'd like to say, yeah, he is a good celebrity. He has done a darn good job," said Gaylord.

By the afternoon, the mayor's open house opened up to the general public. Some brought newspaper clippings. Others had framed proclamations and pictures. One man was set to give the retiring mayor a golf club.

The line to say goodbye wrapped around the corner in City Hall. Metal detectors were in use with a heavy police presence on the 5th floor.

Duke Dynek brought his 90-year-old mother.

"I would do anything for my mother. The mayor was so cordial and warm," said Dynek.

"First time in my life that I ever met a mayor so friendly," said Anna Dynek.

While the mayor didn't have time to take a long time with each person, he did charm a few.

"I gave him a little peck and he gave me a peck back," said Georgia Patsouraes

"When he see me he said, 'cheezeburger cheeseburger,'" said Sam Sianis, owner of the Billy Goat Tavern.

Sianis came to thank Mayor Daley for supporting the business community.

Of all the people ABC7 spoke with, there was no mention of parking meters, City Hall corruption or budget problems. For many, it was a chance to thank the mayor and meet him for the first time.

Daley officially retires a week from Monday, on May 16, which is when Rahm Emanuel will be sworn in as Daley's replacement.

In the past few months, Mayor Daley has been saying a lot of goodbyes. Most recently on Saturday, he marched in the Polish Constitution Day Parade, his last parade before retiring from office. Parade-goers reflected on his 22-year term, some saying it is going to be different in Chicago without him.

Also over the weekend, veterans and military organizations honored the mayor. He was presented with the Distinguished Civilian Service Award for his support of the military as veterans and Junior ROTC programs. Daley commented about leaving office, saying it is emotional.

In recent weeks, Daley has been attending events in each of Chicago's 50 wards on a farewell, neighborhood appreciation tour.

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