On October 30th, 2010, over 200,000 people gathered to rally for (or against) sanity (or fear). A quarter of a million people stood together in unison of something. Roughly half a million souls cheered, jeered, carried signs, and strained to hear someone talk, about something, or sing, about something else. Jon Stewart opened by thanking the million folks there for coming, even though none of them really knew why they were there. And that’s just it. When you ask your viewership to come together, and post a website promoting it, and have the likes of Stephen Colbert promoting a totally different thing at the same time and place with totally different but kinda the same website, you get a billion people to show up. Colbert was slightly over-optomistic when he estimated six billion attendees, but we know that’s not true. The DC metro system couldn’t possibly handle that many people.
I attended with three other friends, riding up from Queens on the Huffington Post Sanity bus. The day started early. Really early. 4:30am early. From uptown to midtown to Queens to DC, with just two hours for the rally before heading back to the bus for the long journey back. We finally found ourselves sitting down to dinner in Manhattan at 11:00 that night. But it was worth every aching muscle and tired eye to do it.
Click here for the full gallery; 58 photos, mostly of the hysterical signs people were carrying. Here are a few highlights.
Traffic to the City Field, where we met and departed from, was gridlocked. At 6:00am, people were abandoning cabs on the freeway and walking the offramp.
10,000 people rode up in 200 Huffington Post buses. From 6:00–6:45 am, we stood around en-masse trying to figure out what to do. Eventually the crowd funneled into the right places, and we all found ourselves on busses. It was actually remarkably quick—it just felt long ‘cause it was so cold out!
Arianna Huffington herself walked through the crowd, thanking people for coming, and pausing for photos.
Busses queued up, departing as soon as they were full. It was one big organic machine of busses squeezing in, filling up and popping out. The flow was impressive.
Wrist bands were handed out to each rider. Without it, there was no ticket home—losing it would have been a good way to be stranded in D.C.!
Traffic was not our friend. By the time we arrived at the Robert F Kennedy Memorial Stadium in D.C. to catch the subway at the Stadium-Armory Metro to the Mall, it was nearly 1:00pm. The rally started at noon.
The Stadium-Armory Metro station, with 10,000 Huffington Post travelers catching the subway downtown.
As you might imagine, the Metro was packed.
Once there, it became all about the signs. Thousands of signs, from the ridiculous to the sublime. Here’s a few of my favorites… and again, go to the full gallery to see a LOT more of them.
Stating the obvious, obviously. “VOTING IS NOT VERY HARD TO DO!”
“NICE BIG CUP OF CALM THE F#&K DOWN”
“GOD HATES FIGS MARK 11:12-14”
“BIG SIGN: SMALL PENIS” (Click on some of these wide shots and open the full screen. You can read loads of little signs off in the distance!)
The crowd was ridiculously large. Scale is somewhat overemphasized with the 15mm fisheye lens, but damn, that’s a wholelottapeople!
My friend and fellow photographer Viriginie Blachère shooting alongside me. Wait ‘till you see where we were standing…
Yeah, that’s us… climbed up on the porta potti to get the view, to get the shot! Anything to get the shot.
Self portrait. As you can see, we weren’t the only ones up there. Of course, we were the only ones standing.
We helped our friend Melissa Ettere climb up as well. She was astounded at just how many people were here. It’s hard to appreciate the sheer mass of bodies until you get above it all.
Some signs were… well… somewhat irrelevant (however, true… oh so very true…)
One of the few truly poignant signs we saw that day. “WANT GOD IN GOVERNMENT? PLEASE, MOVE TO IRAN… SEPARATION OF CHURCH AND STATE MADE AMERICA GREAT”
Leave it to a little boy to carry the best message of the day… simply, “Be Nice”
6 Billion People… or Less
Was it worth it? Up at 4am, back at 11pm; that’s 19 hours of time mostly spent on a bus, standing in line, or on a metro—for two hours of crowd pleasing rally, and photos of thousands, or millions, or billions of people… would I do it again?
Hell yeah. It was a blast ;-)