Well, by now I've sat here and read most every article I could find related to the election and all its tangents, and after much procrastination, I'm faced with finally writing about my experience at the Obama rally in Grant Park (Chicago) on Election Day, as requested by many of you.
Let me start off by saying that we did not rate tickets to the gated kingdom that was the area around the stage at the rally. I apparently missed the initial announcement that tickets were available for the asking (which probably lasted about 15 minutes), and instead I got an e-mail out of the blue from the Democratic Party the next day. I clicked the link when I saw it a few hours later, and I was immediately informed that I was on the waiting list.*
This was of course due to the fact that they offered tickets to only 32,000 people and a single guest each. Based on the fact that hundreds of thousands of people showed up to the park and the surrounding area**, I think you can tell the deck was stacked against me from the start.
So it was with a mixture of glee and disappointment that we made our way down to Grant Park that evening, alongside the expected anxiety with all those votes still to be counted.
Our 10-mile train trip in from the suburbs went flawlessly, with the relative lack of company due to our being considered very late to the party by arriving a mere 2 hours before the scheduled admission time. Our trip home was much more crowded and chaotic, though to the CTA's credit, it was still remarkably smooth.
We walked a few blocks from the L stop to the park, and had we worried about where we needed to go, we had only to join the sizable throng of latecomers still inexorably marching down the streets like it was free sample day at the cookie factory.
Impressive as we were, bending the normal flow of traffic to our will, we were but a tiny stream disappearing into the sea of human flesh already assembled in the park.
As we tried to join the party, we were of course briefly stopped by "Security" and quickly stripped of the most threatening of our contraband. That's right-- whoever thought they could get within a block of our future president with a fully loaded water bottle must have been drinking too much of something other than water before showing up.
Speaking of which, my later observations determined that giant jugs of vodka were totally cool with these guys. Also okay: portable furniture, 25-foot telescoping flagpoles, large knives (probably), and airhorns.
Basically, the golden rule seemed to be that anything cited as disallowed in the public invitations was actually encouraged, and other common-sense, life-sustaining items not mentioned therein would be fished out of your colon, if necessary.
It seemed like a good idea to break this up into multiple posts, so look for part 2 tomorrow, part 3 the next day, and part 4 after that.
* As if people were going to be refusing these tickets-- way to get my already-generally-high hopes up higher against my better judgment, Democratic Party of Illinois.
** I say there were much more than the 240,000 estimate I keep hearing, since I think it discounts a lot of people gathering right across the street and elsewhere in the area, as well as comings and goings over the course of many, many hours.