A steady stream of pedestrians, enjoying the summerlike day, paused to watch.

Some, like Will Ross, were drawn by the atmosphere, not endearment for Blagojevich. "Really, if they were filming that awful 'Transformers' movie today, we would probably be watching that. It's something to see," said Ross. "It's like a public execution."

However, Connie Wojdyla, Blagojevich's neighbor, said she was there to show support for someone who has "done a lot of good, and he's a good person." Wojdyla took credit for making the banners praising Blagojevich.

"We didn't ask. He doesn't mind," she explained. "He wants us to."

Blagojevich was trailed by a camera crew as he walked out of his house to address the throng. One of his lawyers said they were filming a personal documentary, but the Blagojeviches weren't sure what they were going to do with it.

When Blagojevich spoke, he described his situation as a "calamity."

"I have to confess," he said. "There are times when I just want to give up, but then I look into the eyes of my daughters ... and I think that is not what a father is supposed to do. You are supposed to show them you fight through adversity."

He also expressed confidence that an appeal of his conviction would succeed. "I still believe this is America," he said. "...That the truth ultimately will prevail, that right makes might and that this, as bad as it is, is the beginning of another part of a long and hard journey that will only get worse before it gets better, but that this is not over."

"I'll see you around," he concluded before plowing into the crowd to shake hands and sign autographs.

Tribune reporter John Chase contributed.

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