Tampa Rallys for Kerry: October 31, 2004

(TAMPA, FL) I volunteered Sue to hang out with me on a balmy fall Sunday evening, at the Kerry For President Rally in the Senator’s last Florida appearance before the election less than a week later. We, the volunteer designees, showed up on time, after having attended the required volunteers orientation meeting the day before. We discovered they’d lost the volunteer signup sheets that had been painstakingly filled out and collected by those in charge.

It’s great when parents get their children involved as mini-citizens. Coming on Halloween, the kids will in the future equate democratic participation with candy, a desirable result.

The crowd was large; designated crowd areas less so. Here’s a math puzzle: how long does it take to clear perhaps 12,000 strangers through six metal detectors? Answer: Too long. In the end, maybe 1/3 or more of those who showed up never got in. But it really didn’t matter, as the cordoned off areas (by security) filled up long before they quit processing the crowd through the checkpoints, the first indication that organization wasn’t exactly picture perfect.

The fact that many of the handicapped — the blind, aged, wheelchair bound, and functionally impaired — eventually had to fend for themselves went unremarked. It wasn’t a pleasant sight. These were serious gaffes that shouldn’t have occured, but in the end the reporters filed their stories and all reflected that the crowd was large, the mood festive, and the candidate upbeat. Here CNN’s Candy Crowley packs her own gear and lugs it through the crowd after being cleared at the checkpoint.

Weatherwise it was a great evening to hang out on the banks of the Hillsboro river. We got a perfect parking spot, the moon was full, and with the exception that we couldn’t see or hear the candidate, it was a memorable time experiencing the political process.

It’s a sobering thought that in many areas of the globe, a peaceful evening of like-minded individuals getting together wouldn’t have been possible. The ironically conceived Bush Flip-Flop duo flopped when they ran afoul of Secret Service and Tampa cops — neither authority was in the mood for confrontation campaign challenges.

5) Short video Crowds surpassed event estimate, so brief minutes of painstaking planning went down the drain. Scene was reminiscent of the marching band parade fiasco in Animal House as they’re led down a blind alley to an eventual multi-instrument pileup into a brick wall.

Video and stills shot with Canon A70 digital. Movie’s around 3 meg, poor quality but it’s about the process anyway. Click on links to view images.


©john siebenthaler 2004