The Spawn and I went to the Rally For Sanity today. I took the day off of packing to go. He took the day off of pretending to pack, leaving the task of pretending to pack to his father. (I left the Chubby Hubby with 25 empty but put-together boxes to fill. It is now 8 pm - 8 of them are filled. This is his first day packing. I've packed roughly 150 boxes so far all by my little lonesome. We start loading the truck on Monday. HELP)
As usual, we left later than we planned - at just after 10 am instead of at 9:30, which WAS my fault. CH drove us to the New Carrollton Metro station - there are advantages to living in the DC area. Instead of taking either of the exits most folks take to the station, we took the second one from Rt 50 West, rather than the first one (to the Beltway and the Metro) or the exit from the Beltway.
We did good. Yes, we had to make a left into the station, and wait for the light to change. HOWEVER, the traffic from those other two exits was really heavy and merged into one lane. And that one lane was backed up as far as we could see it. I don't know if it was backed up on the beltway, too, or not - it had not been backed up on Rt 50.
The Spawn hops out of the car as soon as we turn into the Metro, I'm driving so the CH and I kiss and switch drivers where it's legal to. I start looking for the end of the line and/or my son. The line is long - from the farecard machines out of the building, down to the parking structures to the left.... thru' one garage, outside the garage back to the front - that's where my son is. I join him. By the time we get half way thru' the line we joined, the line was 33% longer.
It took us an hour to get on a train. Where we sat for a while. Because the Mall area was too crowded with trains for ours to start out - they were backed up in the stations. The train fills, totally. The doors close, and the driver warns us that she HAS to stop at all the stations and open the doors at all the stations. We laugh. The people waiting at the stations we stop at look at the train, we see them mouthing "No WAY!".
Actually, at the first stop, the Landover station, while there WERE people waiting for the train, the parking lots were empty-ish and there were no lines for tickets. The people there should have gotten on a train heading for New Carrollton and NOT gotten off, just sat there as the New Carrollton people got on. It would have worked out GREAT for them.
We got to the mall by 12:30. No, we got NEAR the mall then. We tried to get to the Mall many different ways. 3rd street was hopeless. 7th little better. We stopped for lunch. Back to 7th. After working our way thru' the crowd for 30 minutes we found a place where we could get glimpses of the Jumbotron, but couldn't hear. Did that for a while. I THINK Sam Waterson was on the screen, but I'm too short to have seen more than glimpses. Later, we worked our way to a place where we could hear some but not see at all. There we caught Yusef Islam, Ozzy Osborne, and the O'Jays. But we still couldn't make out anyone speaking.
Mind you, we were still having a great time in the crowd, reading signs, watching street theater.
So we hung out. After a while, we went for more food. We cut out before the end, since it was clear that trains going home would be as problematic as trains getting there.
Since we've lived in the DC area since 1988, we've been on the Mall for lots of events. But we have NEVER faced such lines at the metro, or such crowds on the Mall. Granted, mostly we've done inaugurations, where I'd bring a radio since I knew I'd not be able to hear but could count on the event being livecast for free. But even for Clinton's first inauguration the crowds weren't that thick. Frankly at that time the Spawn was only 5 and I'd have panicked trying to handle a crowd that thick with him.
I don't know how much of the Mall was covered with people - that's one problem with being IN the crowd. But if it went down to 14th Street, as JoeMyGod says it did, the crowd was over 250,000. There were plenty of helicopters overhead, so someone was trying to estimate the crowd.
But I think that the police and metro were TOTALLY blindsided by the numbers.