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Thousands Already in Line for Obama Speech

Thousands of Coloradans selected to hear Democratic presidential nominee Sen. Barack Obama (Ill.) deliver his acceptance speech tonight began lining up this morning to secure prime seats at Invesco Field at Mile High in Denver. Delegates and the media will be bused to the football field later in the day and will have separate entrances.

Democratic National Convention volunteers had several stations of water to combat the heat, but it did not seem to bother those waiting in the long lines.

“I’m not really bothered by the heat,” Linda Burgat said. “I’m just too excited.”

“We’ve walked about five miles in heels” from the parking lots, said Wanda Thompson, of Phoenix. She and her sister Dianna Whiting of Mansfield, Texas, decided last night at 9 to fly out to Denver to hear Obama speak.

Lashanna Wood traveled all the way from Oklahoma City to sell Obama memorabilia. The hottest item: a Kennedy-Obama button. Unfortunately, she doesn’t have credentials to get in, but “making money is better, I guess,” she said.

No major problems have occurred so far outside the stadium. The biggest difficulty has been to remind people to stay on the sidewalk.

Hollis Berendt, secretary of the Weld County, Colo., Democrats, was a bit frustrated with the long lines. “I’m kind of confused to why we have to wait in these long lines.”

Others had been anticipating this moment for a long time. “I couldn’t even sleep last night,” said Jan Lovelady of Colorado. “It’s like the night before Christmas as a child.”

Gus Mansour of Washington, who arrived at 10 a.m., said, “this is the best day of my life. This is the day we begin to free ourselves from the sins of the past.”

Obama is expected to speak at about 8 p.m. MDT. The lead up to his speech features an address from former Vice President Al Gore, music from Stevie Wonder and an appearance by U.S. Olympic gymnast Shawn Johnson.

Laura Marrast contributed to this report.