So, Bernie Sanders had a rally here on Tuesday, and I was able to go. Now, before you start freaking out and getting twitchy that I am going to start a whole political debate here and try and convince you that you should vote for him -- I'm not. I'm not going to tell you not to vote for him either.
I'm not going to try to tell you who to vote for at all. Your a grown-ass adult, capable of making your own decisions. (Well, I assume you are.) With the primaries here in New York next Tuesday I think everyone is already getting inundated enough with email, mailings, and phone polls.
This is more about my experience of attending, and I think it could be helpful if you plan on attending an event for any of the presidential candidates.
1) It may be free, but if they suggest you RSVP to get a ticket confirmation: DO IT!
It still might not guarantee that you get in, but trust me: those few minutes of clicking on the website and registering are worth it. Yes, the event is (probably) free and open to the public, but they still need to have a rough estimate of how many people are going to attend.
I was glad I had the email confirmation, as it turned out they were splitting people into two separate lines to wait to enter: one for people with the tickets, and one for people who just showed up. Real talk -- the line for people with tickets was so long I'm not sure that even they all made it in, much less the people who just showed up. Get the tickets.
2) Get there early!
I left work early, and assumed that getting there when the doors opened at 4pm would be early enough, since the rally didn't start until 7pm. I was very wrong. I'd like to thank my friend Lori for letting me know that the one held near her was swarmed with people hours ahead of time. If I had left any later I'm not sure I would have gotten in. By the time we found somewhere to park, walked all the way down to the McCann Center where it was being held, got directed to the proper line, and then finally reached the end of the forming line? That was probably a good half hour all on its own.
This was my view from the end of the line when we (we being my mother and I) finally reached it, a little before 4 pm.
Hello, from the far side of the building by the batting cages!
So, from where we were, the line wrapped around the batting cages, down the side of the baseball field, up the side walk along the building, over the hill and behind the other side of the baseball field, before turning and heading back along the sidewalk to the entrance of the building.
And we were there early-ish. Before we ever made it out of that field, the line for people with tickets wrapped around about 3 more times, and it just kept getting longer.
Get there early, Friends.
3) Be prepared to wait, and enjoy the nice weather.
Try not to stress over whether you are waiting in line for an event you might not even make it into. They take security pretty damn seriously, and getting in is going to be a slow process. There are police and Secret Service all over the place. Bring as little as you possibly can, because it is kind of like airport security when you finally reach the doors.
For real. I'm not kidding. The Secret Service is running the security at the entrance. You have to empty your pockets of everything and go through a metal detector, just like at the airport. (We did get to keep our shoes on.) If you set off the alarm, they will pull you aside and use the wand on you -- I saw it happen.
4) You finally made it in! Now wait more, but indoors!
That moment of euphoria you feel because you made it in will be brief. Now you have to find somewhere to sit or stand where you actually have a chance of seeing the person. Yes, there are big screens up so you can see on the monitors, but I wanted to be able to see in the flesh as well. I ended up sitting in the bleachers behind television cameras.
It's not the best picture, but that gives you an idea of my vantage point.
5) Enjoy the speech you came to hear!
It started pretty close to on time at 7pm, which meant we only had to wait an hour or so after we finally made it indoors. Bernie got to the podium around 7:45 pm. Not too bad in the grand scheme of things.
6) Tip: Eat before you go, or bring something to eat while you are in line.
I'm not going to lie, Friends, I had some poor planning on that part of things. I left straight from a meeting at work that afternoon and didn't bring anything to eat. I was more than a little hungry by the time I got to have dinner around 9:30 that night. Bring something to eat. You probably can't bring the food into the venue with you, but you should have plenty of time to it while in line.
7) Enjoy the people-watching opportunities.
And they are plentiful. It was a diverse crowd of folks. And apparently the people without tickets must have seemed like trouble, because when we finally got to a point in the line where we could see that side of the venue? They were roped off with police tape and barricades, as their line went through the middle of a parking lot. I wish I had a picture.
People-watching amuses me to no end. I made a ton of notes on my phone, and took a couple of pictures, cause that's how I roll. I'll try and keep this in chronological order from my point of view. Anything in quotes is the bits of conversations I over heard. Sound good, Friends? Fantastic, because that's what we're doing.
"This would have been the best crowd to bring a didgeridoo to!"
"We should have been doing a full-on livestream just of this wait in line."
And then this happened:
Person in front of me in line doesn't know who Michael Stipe is or any REM songs. I'm horrified.— Tammy Myers (@tammyshampoo) April 12, 2016
And she went on to say she only listens to Taylor Swift and One Direction, but only 1D's most recent album, and the person in front of her was trying to name REM songs she might recognize but she had never heard of any of them but "maybe if someone played one I might know it." And I really wanted a wall to bang my head against.
Some of the people waiting in line formed their own band on a hill to entertain the line:
The flag says: "Nuclear? No Gracias!"
I was bored, so I texted my friend who was going to see where the heck he was at the time, since I had been cooling my heels in line for over an hour at this point. He said he was inside already, and they got to sit right behind the podium. And I assumed he was lying.
That sounds harsh, but you need to know that he (and his brother) make crap up all of the time and try to convince me that it is true, and I kind of suck at telling the difference. Example: they once edited (and changed back - nothing permanent) a Wikipedia entry to try and convince me that one of our coworkers had been on a television show as a child. In my defense I assumed this was more bullshit, and that he was going to tell me next that he and Bernie had breakfast together as well and were now BFFs or something. This will be relevant later, promise.
Verizon Fios News van. Super-excited at this point, because that meant we were getting near the entrance.
"Did you see that guy?! He must be Secret Service! He was wearing a suit, and he has the curly wire thing coming from his ear piece! I thought that was just from tv and the movies!"
"I don't think the people still in the baseball field are going to get in."
And then we made it inside, and found some seats.
"How many people do you think are in here? I bet we are breaking fire codes."
"I get all of the television cameras, but what are all of the people with the laptops doing sitting behind them? They can't possibly see anything from down there."
"Do you think there are any protesters here? I didn't see any outside."
"How long do you think it took that girl to get all those different colors done in her hair?"
And then I had a moment...
Holy shit -- he wasn't lying!
Zoomed in from my super-awesome view on the other side of the universe, there sits my friend and his family. Right behind the podium where he said.
I think we shall end it on that note, Friends.
If you have a chance to go to a rally for the candidate of your choice -- you should absolutely go! It's an experience. Get there early, and bring a lot of patience and a sense of humor with you. My tips from me to you.