District of Columbia - Rally to Restore Sanity - Part 1

Rally to Restore Sanity and/or Fear, Part 1

Nothing like a quiet early morning on the Mall. It's just before 8 AM and while everything is set up, nothing is turned on. Crowds are sparse and even though Facebook indicated more than 200,000 people would show up, no one was sure exactly how many actually would end up arriving. In anticipation of that sort of crowd, though, the rally was organized to take up the entire east part of the Mall.

At 8 AM sharp, the TVs turn on. A lot of media and invited guests have not yet filtered in, and the early crowd barely packs in the small area closest to the stage. Introductory festivities would start at 10 AM and the main show was scheduled for noon. Still, given that crowds arrive for New Year's Eve in New York City 8 hours before the ball drops, being 4 hours early was no guarantee of good viewing.

Progressive crowding until 11 AM. The crowd is now farther back than my lens can see. By the end of the day, the final attendance was estimated at 215,000, far outstripping either of the August events the rally was based on (as explained on my main page). A new record was set for subway ridership on a Saturday, and DC has had a lot of very well-attended events before. People spoke of 45-minute waits or longer just to board the Metro at a suburban stop to try to get into the rally, and of highway delays that jammed for hours so that the desired attendance could easily have been 300,000 or greater had the infrastructure been able to support it.

Reporting on the rally, or keeping tabs?

At 12 PM, the Roots kick things off. If not all of my photos are of the highest quality, consider the number of obstructions I had to fight to see the stage. Still, at maximum zoom, at least you can tell who's who.

Jamie Hyneman and Adam Savage of Mythbusters are next up in a very well done performer lineup.

Their first act was to instruct the crowd in massive productions of common sounds. You get laughter, crying, and the crowd favorite of cheek popping. If you've never heard 200,000 cheeks pop, you have to watch this. You should anyway.

They have the crowd do the wave to see how long it takes to get from front to back. The answer? Nearly a minute.

Next, Adam instructs the crowd to wave in reverse, bringing it back to the front for further experimentation. In keeping with the show's theme, the hosts then tested whether women or men can wave faster. Men won.

Jon Stewart takes the stage around 1 PM with an introductory monologue.

Stephen Colbert chose to arrive on the left side of the stage, completely unviewable from where I was, so a few television images will have to substitute from the nearest screen. He was hiding in his fear cave and had to be coaxed out, but the method of delivery was a fantastic riff on the Chilean coal miner drama. Once he emerged and became visible, I was able to get a video of the second half of the routine, so please do click on that.

Once up, Stephen (I'm Steve, so he has to be Stephen) took over the right side of the stage and thus became a lot easier for me to see than Jon over the course of the afternoon. There ensued comedic interplay regarding the strengths and merits of fear versus sanity. At one point, Stephen disappeared off stage, only to come back wearing star pants and saying he was more American. This has very little to do with sanity or fear, but I did attend after all to see comedy more than to support an altruistic message.

Click to watch some of that comedic interplay.

Part 2 of the rally
Signs and other good stuff
Back to the Rally main page

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