Rally Recap

2 11 2010

Well, I have a number of things I had wanted to write about today (my latest and distracting obsession, the Giants winning the 2010 World Series, post-Halloween thoughts) but I have had numerous requests for a post on John Stewart’s and Stephen Colbert’s Rally to Restore Fear and/or Sanity that happened on the 30th of October. Mostly, it’s just people I know who were out of town for the rally, who want to know all about it, because I’m pretty sure if you were anywhere near the D.C. area, you were there that day. And you know, while the general story I have to share is probably going to be the same as a lot of people who were there, this is my story…

This is the closest I got to the stage. Granted, it was a day or two before the rally, when it was still being set up.

In an effort to avoid taking the super crowded metro downtown, and with the added bonus of getting free food to cure my hangover from going out in Adams Morgan for Halloween the previous night, I opted to get a ride downtown with my parents who were also going to the rally. While I may have felt somewhat “lame” for attending the rally with good ol’ Mom and Dad, I really can’t complain that the food they provided for me and the transportation was free and stress-free. We walked down to the Mall down 14th Street from the parking garage we found to park in. There were numerous others walking with us. When we got to the Mall, I was actually surprised that there weren’t more people. We got there just before noon, so our timing was pretty good.

Pretty quickly, we got swallowed by the swiftly moving crowd and discovered that the only direction that we could feasibly go was forward. It wasn’t possible to make our way into the center of the Mall, so we kept moving on the Northern edge of the Mall, close to the sidewalk. Everywhere you looked, there were thousands of bizarre, silly, and non-sensical signs. Being as how it was Halloween weekend, many were dressed up in costume. It was a strange hodgepodge of people, mostly young, which made up a very freeing environment. The scene reminded me very much of get togethers in the 1960s with Hippies and people choosing to act however they wanted. It seemed like a Hippie music festival, but the emphasis wasn’t so much the music.

This was my view for most of the day. There were so many signs!

Eventually, we couldn’t walk forward any more, and found a niche to stand in front of a number of people who had chose to sit. There was a family with two small children sitting directly in front of us and a group of 15 or so young adults who had a radio with them, to better listen to the audio happening on the stage far from us. I thought the radio was a pretty cool idea, but it created an unnecessary echo which made it harder to decipher what was being said and the surrounding crowd yelled at them to turn it off. My mom was also pleased that there were sitting people in front of her, which made our spot less claustrophobic.

Pleased with our location behind these people who chose to sit. It's not like we could see anything anyways...

Something to note about this rally in comparison to some other mass-attended events on the Mall, was that the free-spirited atmosphere led to some pretty wild and rebellious activity. Many people were climbing trees and even traffic lights in order to get a better view over top the crowd. There was a tree pretty close to where we were and we nervously watched as a few crazy teens climbed up. One girl climbed up in crazy-patterned tights and the crowd cheered her on. I heard remarks from those nearby about how the crowd was sexist and hadn’t cheered the guy who climbed before her. A third guy climbed up and got his leg stuck in a branch for a brief moment. Climbing up was one thing, but my mom and I were more concerned with how they’d be getting down. We vowed not to walk near any trees, to avoid people basically “falling from the sky” onto us.

This dude just scaled the tree, and climbed it like a pro-lumberjack or something.

The crowd was pretty energetic and light-hearted with chants of, “Louder! Louder!” when the PA system was not properly working during the pre-show, and occasionally even doing the Wave, most famously known for being done at sporting events. I would have loved to have seen that from up above. The audi may not have been working too well during the pre-show, but we heard The National Anthem loud and clear as well as what John Stewart said in his opening speech. One of my favorite quips of his was how we in the crowd should count off! Ha. (And then of course, various numbers were heard being shouted throughout the crowd in response.) When Stephen Colbert began to talk, the audio started to fade and after his speech, the crowd grew restless and started to move. My parents were getting tired of standing so we decided to head to the National Gallery of Art to walk around and see the shows inside.

While I would have liked to stay for the whole show, we didn’t really have a choice, and just had to keep moving with the crowd. As we were making our way through the waves of people, I made sure to snap a few photos of the many signs. I actually wasn’t able to get a good photo of my favorite two signs that day however. One said, “It’s a sign” and the other said, “Anti-Oxidant.” Below are some pictures of a few other great signs I saw…

This is the crowd as seen leaving around 3pm after the rally. This was taken from the second floor of the East Wing building.



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