Last Saturday Kelly and I decided to wander down to see Barack in person. For those of you that aren’t aware, he was doing a rally here in St. Louis, and being fans (both of rallies and Barack), we went.
The rally started around noon at the Arch, so we decided to leave around 10:15 or so. That would be enough time, right? We took the Metrolink down (I know, what a huge step for me) and got off at Laclede’s Landing. There was a pretty big crowd on the train, but not as bad as I’ve seen it for some sporting events. I was thinking that it wasn’t going to be that bad.
Oh my, how I was wrong. We got down from the platform, and there was a line going north from the station. (If you’re trying to follow, the arch is south of the station, so the line was stretching north from the Arch, past the station.) We turned left to find the end of the line. And we walked. And walked some more. And then some more. And then we kept walking. And about 15 minutes later we found the end of the line, which had snaked around so that even we were in line, we were still walking away from the Arch. I heard estimates that the line was 2 miles long, and it wouldn’t surprise me a bit.
So we waited in line, and it basically didn’t move at all until for some reason the police told us we all had to turn around and walk south. What this meant was that all of our time in line was wasted. Because of that looping back on itself, people further back in the line were actually closer to the Arch than we were. At this point we had basically decided to leave, and started walking back with the crowd basically only because we were caught in the flow. And that’s when the coolest thing happened. The reason they had turned us around was because Obama’s motorcade was going to be travelling down the street we had been standing on. And sure enough, he drove right by us. We saw him in his SUV, waving at all of us.
After that happened we were pretty content, so after spending a little bit more time in the throng that was now slowly heading back towards the Arch, we ducked out of line, and planned to walk around to get to higher ground so that we could see how big the crowd was. And that was a very fortuitous move on our part, because we found out that there really wasn’t ever a “line”. It was just so slow because everyone was trying to get through a very small area. By leaving the line and walking around we basically “cut” in front of 10,000 people, and were able to get right into the Arch grounds. I think another reason was that at a certain point they stopped running people through the metal detectors, which is honestly a little scary.
So in the end, we made it. We were so far away that we couldn’t see anything, but we definitely heard him. And if you jumped just right you could see the big screen that he was on. We only stayed for about half the speech and then left. We’ve heard what he has to say, and wanted to beat the crowds, which was absolutely the right call.
Overall it was a really fun experience, more to be part of the whole crowd than to hear the speech or anything. I’m really glad that we did it, because as Mom is so fond of saying, we saw history.