I am not particularly fond of large crowds. I get impatient and start to feel claustrophobic and generally avoid them unless there is a really compelling reason. Such as a James Blunt concert or a talk by the Dalai Lama. Or, a political rally in Washington, D.C. that promises to be just a little extraordinary.
Which is why I found myself, along with my husband and two sons, at the Rally to Restore Sanity and/or Fear at the National Mall in Washington, D.C. last weekend. While estimates vary, there were probably 215,00-250,000 people in attendance. That’s about a quarter of a million people in one relatively small area.
And, you know what? It was really fun!
The weather was picture postcard perfect and the atmosphere of the rally was very upbeat and positive. People were extremely polite, even when we were jammed in a human gridlock that prevented absolutely any movement for minutes at a time.
Some of the best seats were in trees our on top of port-a-potties. Although this one looks like a high-risk endeavor (note what the red arrow is pointing to):
We had plenty of time to read placards.
Some of my favorites were:
- I’m not you. I’m a witch.
- Labels are for Pickle Jars.
- Colbert for Congress.
- And, of course, our sign:
From our vantage point on the steps of the National Gallery of Art (which has free admission and houses one of the best art collections you could ever wish to see), we could barely make out the figures of Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert in the far distance. Colbert was particularly animated as he jumped around in his Evel Knievel-inspired white jumpsuit and cape.
Was it easy to get to the rally? Only if by easy you mean taking one son out of his midterm at college, taking the other son away from his senior Homecoming weekend, and joining your husband at a midway point (the Albuquerque Airport) on your transcontinental route at as you winged your way to the East coast.
And was the rally perfect? No, they could have used a much better sound system. And there could have been many more large screen monitors. And cellphone coverage would have been a huge plus. Who knew that the vast number of people tweeting and emailing pics would essentially shut down the wireless service, making it virtually impossible to make a call or send a text?
But I am not complaining. Far from it. Sometimes you have to get beyond your comfort zone and try new experiences. Along with 250,000 of your new best friends.
images: © 2010. Christianna Pierce.