Friday the 13th

Don't know how you spent your Friday the 13th, but Sal and I spent it at Waterfront Park. For the Kerry rally.

With 50,000 other people. Yeah, you read that right. And I've got the pictures to prove it.

We got up early to get in line -- gates opened at 10 AM. We arrived at the Delta Park MAX Station at 8:30 AM and even then, there were 9 or 10 other Kerry supporters waiting, too. You could tell because everyone was wearing pins or hats or shirts. We all rode in together and got off at 3rd and Oak (I think). Which meant walking the length of Naito Parkway to The Bowl at the South End. (To the non-Oregonians, it's naturally formed bowl-shaped slope at one end of the park that runs along the western waterfront of the Willamette.) But it was beautiful outside so the walk was lovely.

There were dozens of people walking with us, all of us just following the general migration, and as we got closer, the dozens turned into hundreds. We crossed Naito Parkway at the Hawthorne Bridge onramp where a line of people 4 or 5 deep stretched onto the ramp and the bridge and were told the end of the line was on that bridge. So we walked along the sidewalk, concentrating on not falling into the roadway because the bridge wasn't closed at that point. So it wasn't until we'd almost reached the end -- I am not kidding -- that we also reached the end of the line. That's when we started to realize how big this was going to be.

It was a good chance to snap a few pics of downtown, though, because the view from the Hawthorne is really great. And we were only in that line for about 45 minutes before it started moving and pretty soon, we were back on the west side. They'd closed down the on-ramp from Naito by then and then Kerry volunteers were asking people if they had tickets (we printed ours online); they told us to go to the next traffic light (Columbia) and follow the signs to the entrance that said white tickets/no tickets. Guess it didn't matter if we'd printed it off or not, just that we got there early enough.

Anyway, we staked out a spot where we'd at least get a glimpse or two of the stage from time to time, even though we were out in BFE. But it didn't matter. We were there for the experience. And we were surrounded by people of all kinds -- old, young, families, hipsters, college kids, punks, veterans, firefighters, union workers, goths, soccer moms -- just to our left was a Sikh man and woman, behind us, a single dad and his two kids. There were three college guys right in front of us, a biker couple on our right, a row of people in blue shirts that identified their union local on the front, a couple of high school girls right behind us (one of whom was wearing the best shirt ever; it said: "Democrats are sexy...nobody talks about getting a good piece of elephant").

All kinds of people.

We were in place by about 9:30. The event wasn't scheduled to start until noon. No one complained, we all just hung out and talked amongst each other and enjoyed the beautiful weather. Sure, it was a little hot (and holy cats did we ever get sunburned), but nothing serious. Although thank the gods Sal remembered to bring a big water jug. A lot of people didn't get in -- the bridge was lined with people and I heard/read later that it went all the way to the east side of the river, not to mention several other lines of people around the city blocks in the immediate area.

There was a whole range of speakers...the Governor and the most Democratic portion of the Oregon delegation (Wu, Blumenauer, Hooley, and Wyden; DiFazio wasn't there and Gordon, of course). Then a little later, Leonardo DiCaprio spoke about environmental issues (big response on that in this city) and he was surprisingly good. After him was Jon Bon Jovi and Richie Sambora, who did some very impressive accoustical versions of "Living on a Prayer" and "Dead or Alive", which totally dates Sal and I that we know the words but whatever, we were in high school, it brought back memories, bite me.

Some more waiting, then finally, the Kerry bus pulls up (we couldn't see it, just heard everyone start yelling) and then it pulled into the park itself and right up to the stage. The entire crowd went absolutely apeshit. Kerry and crew came out, which I didn't see, but could tell just from the huge volume increase. Then Andre Heinz spoke and introduced his mom, then Teresa, who we adore but she did take awhile. (Found out later she was stalling for time because the local networks were too busy covering the Shrubbery's speech across town while he smugged his way through an appearance in front of 1,000 hand picked supporters. Oh, and in other news, the local media sucks like Hoover showroom.)

Then it was Rassman, the Oregonian veteran Kerry saved, who spoke for about 5 minutes, and then finally it was the man himself.

The speech itself was a variation of his DNC speech, but no complaints because that was a great speech, number one, and number two, he did a lot of local/regional appeal changes (environment and economy and science, all of which got huge responses) and some awesome digs on the Rethugs.

We stuck around for about 45 minutes after it all ended so we wouldn't have to push through a bunch of people, but even then, there were just people everywhere. And we planned to walk up to Pioneer Square and then to Good Dog/Bad Dog for a late lunch, and all the way up, the sidewalks were full of Kerry supporters. (And while we were waiting for the MAX later on, had the most surreal moment of all when a guy asked us to sign the petition to allow Nader on the Oregon ballot and when we refused, practically begged us, saying, "It's his constitutional right to be on the ballot", to which I responded, "Doesn't mean he's entitled to my signature on that petition.")

Like I said, not everyone got in. The fire marshall closed the gates around 11:30 but people just stayed on the bridge and the streets. I've read accounts all over that people were lined up so far away that they couldn't even hear the sound from the speakers (which were loud, but they could sure hear the crowd) but they stayed lined up anyway to show their support. And it showed, because the fire marshall later gave an estimate of 50,000 people -- 25,000 within the fence lines and another 25,000 lined up along Naito, the Hawthorne Bridge, and down Columbia, Clay, and Market streets.

So I saved the best pictures for last. Because Bush can speak to all the screened audiences he wants. This is what 50,000 looks like.

Lots more pictures on our website .

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