On not seeing (or hearing) a major candidate in person, part 1 of 2

posted in: Current Affairs, Serendipity | 3

I've never seen a major political candidate in person. Yesterday one was scheduled to speak in our city at 3:30 p.m., and because the location was within biking distance of our house my daughter and I rode down to the location.

We knew there was a chance we wouldn't get in, because we had breakfast with a friend first instead of going to get in line multiple hours in advance of the event. We decided before we left that it would be okay if we just went to the area, spent some time looking at what was going on, and then went home.

The campus is normally sparsely populated on weekends. We started
noticing higher-than-usual traffic when we were about a mile away.

We arrived about 1 p.m. and parked our bikes. The gates to the Oval, where the gathering would take place, were scheduled to open at 1:30. At about 11, when we'd driven by after our breakfast, we estimated the line at around 500 feet (150 m), although we were just eyeballing it from the main road. In any case, it looked like the lining-up had gotten well started but wasn't outrageous.

One thing that was cool about the event was the fullness of the bike racks and the emptiness of the parking lots. People had been asked to use alternative transportation, and they did. A whole lot of people biked and walked. The city, which normally has no Sunday bus service, also scheduled one special route that operated from 10 to 6 to bring people into the area. (Post-event buses that we saw later in the afternoon were packed, even near the end of the run.)

This is just one set of racks by the library that I snapped a picture of while we were looking for the end of the line.

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The line was growing very quickly—faster than we could walk, so it kept growing away from us, although we didn't realize that until we did finally locate the end, close to where we'd started.

Here are a few photos of the line when we started our search for where to join it. They are sequential, taken as a pseudo-panorama from where I was standing on
the west side of the student center. They show the portion of the line that
extended from the library along University Avenue west to Meridian,
then north to Plum Street/North Drive. I estimate the distance covered in these pictures as about 1/2 mile (.8 km). Then the line turned west again
and went out of sight.

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Line2_1911

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When we got to the corner of Meridian and Plum/North, at about the location of the near-leafless tree in the photo just above, we looked west:

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The people with their backs to the camera are all, like us, walking along in search of the end of the line.

We walked quite a distance, enjoying the people watching. By Moby Gym (technicallly Moby Arena) and the McGraw Athletic Center, some kids were entertaining themselves in a characteristically Colorado fashion. 

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We took a shortcut through some of the football practice fields (and got our feet soaked because of overwatering of sod) and, 35 minutes after we started walking—shortly after the official opening of the gates to the Oval—we did join the end of the line.

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To be continued, with a map and some additional commentary on the news reports on the size of the crowd as contrasted with our in-person observations.

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3 Responses

  1. That’s a heap of bikes (and people) – good to see!
    I looked it up online and found there was a large and enthusiastic crowd there.
    Only Palin has visited our area and it cost $500 to go! Not that I would bother.

  2. Fascinating! Can’t wait to read the rest.

  3. Thanks for this report, how exciting, and your pictures are great as always, I particularly enjoy the kids climbing up on the pillars to see. I’ve heard reporters on NPR talk about the tangible excitement at an Obama rally. I’m told I saw either candidate or President Eisenhower when I was little, I grew up in a town (Glenview, Illinois) with a US Naval Air Base, and he went through in a motorcade. I guess the then-equivalent of Air Force One landed at the base. I don’t know the year, but I was born in 1951, so I might have seen him while he was campaigning for the 1952 election or at any time during the next eight years.

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