I can’t find my friends.
I need a real bathroom.
Why are people throwing their signs away?
I wish these people would stop pushing me!
These thoughts ran through my mind while leaving Washington, D.C.’s National Mall Saturday after attending the Rally to Restore Sanity and/or Fear hosted by Comedy Central’s Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert.
She’s Going Where?
I’m sure certain family members prayed to save my soul when they found out I was attending the rally and honestly, after booking my travel, I had to ask what is the purpose of the Rally to Restore Sanity and/or Fear?
People attended the rally for a variety of reasons. Mine included bragging rights, seizing the opportunity to be part of something big to tell Americans to take it down a notch, and proving I’m just as American as those who drink the tea, or at least those who tape tea bags to signs. Let’s face it, there is power in numbers.
And let me tell ya, people were out in numbers Saturday. Lots and lots of people. CBSNews.com is reporting an estimated 215,000 attended and I think that’s on the low end.
I arrived early enough to gain entry into the front section and although I managed a spot one-person deep by a fence with a clear shot of the stage, my claustrophobia overrode the bragging rights-gene and I pulled back to watch the rally. When I found my way to a grassy area, I was stepping over groups of people, some who had blankets, sleeping on the grass.
My “get me outta here” moment was when a guy with a folded camp chair on his back was pushing his way through the people and there was no obvious place to set up his chair. “You’ve got to be kidding me,” I thought.
Signs. Signs. Almost Everywhere there Were Signs.
After all the talk and although I made my signs, I didn’t take them out! Once I arrived, I was so overwhelmed with awesomely cool signs I was embarrassed to show mine. Plus, I’m not one for the spotlight and really didn’t want people staring and taking photos. I mean, who knows where the pictures will end up! (I’m joking.)
People dug out creativity and crafted some pretty elaborate signs, although the simple ones were clever, too.
Some signs were politically focused while others were off the wall. One of my favorites was, “Fear the Amish.” Why did it make me chuckle? Because there’s nothing to fear about the Amish it’s absurd!
Some signs pushed the boundaries of being civil. Some poked fun at Tea Party favorites while others slammed them. Can’t we just get along?
In addition to signs, some people wore costumes. Some made sense, others had me scratching my head.
So what did the Rally Accomplish?
On the drive from the airport to my hotel Friday night, the driver asked if Jon Stewart was powerful. After thinking about his question, I replied, “Yes, after all, he has convinced tens of thousands of people to travel to D.C. for a rally we’re not sure what exactly is going to happen.”
The rally was entertaining. Yes, it was very cool seeing Yusuf Islam (formerly Cat Stevens), Ozzy Osbourne, Kid Rock, Sheryl Crow and other performers, thanks to the Jumbotrons. And Sam Waterson makes my sexiest men list so I was excited he was part of the festivities. Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert were fantastic, too. They had me laughing but Jon Stewart’s closing remarks had substance and a reminder why we were there.
All of this was great but I thought there would be more star power. I honestly thought Oprah would show up considering she gave round-trip airline tickets, two-night stays in D.C.-area hotels and VIP passes for an audience of the Jon Stewart show.
The rally was civil. People were relatively polite to one another. I dropped my Flip video camera and the man who saw me drop it chased me down to return it. There’s usually one or two loud mouths in a crowd but where I was, I really didn’t hear or see it. But, there was the shoving, especially when leaving. I couldn’t understand when we were all moving in the same direction with the same objective why people had to push through. Geesh, people!
The rally was secure. I witnessed law enforcement threatening to arrest attendees who climbed into trees to watch the event and yell at others who perched atop portolets for a bird’s-eye-view. But really? Sitting atop an outhouse? The odor? The thin roof making it easy to break through? Ew!
A guy in a green leotard was shown the exit after he jumped the fence and ran to an outhouse and another guy who hopped a fence was led away by police. Other than that, from what I saw, people were nice to each other.
The rally generated a lot of trash. I don’t know how much but leaving, trash cans were overflowing with trash, recyclables and signs no one wanted any more.
Rally to Restore Sanity and/or Fear was a satire, almost. If you’ve been to a Tea Party event you know they’ve gone a touch overboard with instilling fear. This wasn’t a political rally to push an agenda or tell others their beliefs are wrong. This rally was to bring it down a notch and to agree to disagree.
It was an opportunity to be surrounded by like-minded people. It was an afternoon of laughs, dancing and fun, yet a reminder to respect your fellow human and remember we all have the same needs. Wouldn’t the world be a better place if we remembered that on a daily basis.
If anything, the city of Washington, D.C., directly benefited from the Rally to Restore Sanity and/or Fear. Thousands of people traveled to attend. Participants like me stayed in hotels, dined in restaurants, utilized ground transportation and enjoyed other services. We infused the local economy and that’s a good thing. The Washington tourism office must be happy.
Making my way to the Mall, Yahoo! News was handing out fans, blue read “Team Sanity” while red had “Team Fear” printed on them. Megaphones stating, “You Have a Voice, Use It” were also given away. Upon entering the Mall, Rally to Restore Sanity and/or Fear were being handed out. Nifty little things were sponsored by Reese’s.
I attended the event alone, not lonely. Although I had plans to meet up with friends, the poor cell service (and poor battery life on my iPhone) and crowds prevented that. However, upon entering the area I saw one of my coworkers. Very random. Going alone meant I could do what I wanted and wander where I wanted.
I have a renewed faith in the Millennial Generation. Our country will be in good hands when more of them will be controlling the workforce. I listened to them having thoughtful conversations during the flight and during the rally. They weren’t engaged in shallow conversations about reality televisions but expressing concern over the future of the United States.
Want to see more visuals from the Rally to Restore Sanity and/or Fear?
Check out my Flickr library for more photos and check out these videos:
So did you attend the rally? What did you think?