NORWALK - Across southwestern Connecticut, residents gathered Tuesday to celebrate as Barack Obama became the nation's first African-American president.

In Norwalk, residents hosted their own version of an inaugural ball at BJ Ryan's Bar and Grille Tuesday night. At a Bridgeport church, dozens more gathered to watch the historic event.

Mount Aery Baptist Church was filled with people from all backgrounds who came together to watch the inauguration of America's 44th president. Some came on their lunch break, while others took the entire day off to watch.

"I never thought in my lifetime I'd see a black president," says 77-year-old John Craig. The crowd shared feelings of excitement and hope as the new president gave his inaugural address.

"It's overwhelming for me to be 45 years old and watch this happen. We can actually come together as people now," says Carol Johnson.

Other neighborhoods throughout southwestern Connecticut hosted their own inaugural balls Tuesday night.

For reactions from inauguration viewing held at Norwalk movie theater, see iO Extra on channel 612.

Watch: Students watch the inauguration of Barack Obama

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