Monday, November 3, 2008

Morning of Change


Sen. Barack Obama's campaign officials gave the town of Highland, Ind., only 36 hours to prepare for a visit by the presidential candidate to Wicker Park, a beautiful park across the street from our subdivision and a couple of blocks from our home.

I and several residents I spoke to earlier in the day thought scheduling a rally on Halloween night to be little odd. A neighbor called me from work to check on traffic in the neighborhood. Working from home on the 31st, I reassured him that town workers driving golf carts down the street were busy hammering signs proclaiming "resident parking only" every 20 feet. Large, yellow, flashing construction signs you see along an interstate work zone alerting drivers of delays ahead were stationed at the four entrances to our subdivision also alleviated his concerns. Local police and volunteers also were checking IDs of drivers entering the subdivision. Those, if any, that got in were likely scared off by the convoy of tow trucks idling on our streets.

With only 36 hours to prepare, the town of Highland did an outstanding job of keeping order and ensuring a safe night for what years from now will be considered an historic event. Quyen and I had planned to go to Grant Park in Chicago on election night, but I didn't want to pass up chance to see Obama so close to home.

We took Dylan and Matthew to a Halloween party and trick-or-treating in the neighborhood just south of us. We were invited by our friends Jenny and Stephanie. Jenny, the daughter of local politician Indiana State Rep. Linda Lawson, hooked us up with VIP tickets to the rally. (Thanks again, Jenny!)

After the trick-or-treating, Jenny and Stephanie followed us home so they could park in our driveway and avoid the crowd. Quyen was a little under the weather. Since we planned to attend the Tuesday night celebration rally, she decided to stay home with the kids.

Jenny, Stephanie and I set out for the park about 30 minutes before the scheduled start. We ran into a number of people walking toward the park who were visibly excited about attending the rally and seeing and hearing Obama speak.

Once inside the park gates, attendees were corralled through the club house where buttons and T-shirts were on sale. Exiting the back doors, we followed the crowd down a paved path to an area where makeshift crowd-control barriers kept the crowd in an organized line, moving zig-zag toward the metal detecters where all electronic devices had to be turned on for security checks.

Having VIP tickets, we were allowed to bypass the zig-zag area and go straight to the metal detectors. Sure, our pace was quickened by our own excitement, but walking from our house to the park and past security to our spot inside the rally took us only 15 minutes.

I didn't see the tickets until it was time to use them, but Jenny had only two. Had I known that Jenny was going to sacrifice her spot in the VIP area for Stephanie or me, I would gone to the general admission area. Jenny insisted that Stephanie and I take the tickets and go inside. She said "have fun" and disappeared into a sea of thousands. (You're the best, Jenny, thanks! I owe you!)

VIP tickets must have been handed out with candy for the trick-or-treaters because there were thousands of people in the area that included two bleacher sections and standing room only that surrounded the stage. Stephanie and I made our way forward but couldn't get closer than about 100 feet from the stage.

A number of local and state politicians, including Sen. Evan Bayh, former Indiana governor and an early contender for Obama's running mate, as well as Pete Visclosky, a U.S. congressman who worked at my father's law office years ago.

The five or so speakers got on and off the stage in only 30 minutes. After Visclosky wrapped up and exited, a few campaign workers began preparing the mic for Obama's arrival. The crowd erupted when music began to play, but it was premature. Another song began. Then another. And another. Some parts of the crowd began to chant for Obama. The crowd was eager for him to take the stage. Several men who I believe were secret service personnel climbed to the top rows of the bleachers to ask people to lower their Obama signs, perhaps to ensure for the TV cameras a clean sight line to the Obama campaign Web site that was at the bottom of a large Obama sign behind the top row.

Finally the senator arrived and the crowd reacted feverishly to his entrance. Arms went skyward to cheer or to take pictures and video. With my camera in hand, I just hoped to get a few good shots.
































Obama takes the stage after several local and state politicians had warmed up the crowd of 40,000.

He began by acknowledging the Indiana politicians in attendance but was interrupted by a member of the audience who had fainted not far from the podium. He threw a bottle of water in his direction and asked for an EMT to assist individual.

Much like in his televised speeches, Obama was passionate when he encouraged the audience the vote early in the four days before the election. He was eloquent when he talked about his tax plan and ideas to help the economy. He emphasized that in four days we had an opportunity to affect this defining moment in history. The crowd roared. So did I.

I took dozens of photos at the rally, hoping the distance or that bright light wouldn't affect the focus. For the closeups of Obama, my camera was at its maximum zoom but I think they turned out ok.

























All the people in this photo were in the VIP section. We're standing about 100 feet from Obama.
































Obama in usual form.






















My favorite picture of the bunch.































Obama acknowledges the crowd.

11 comments:

Anonymous said...

Regardless of Obama’s presumed good intentions, socialism always brings a society to a bad ending. I don’t want to believe that Americans who live in a free society that allows people to think what they will, do what they want, and succeed if they can, will willingly hand themselves over to the socialist ideology. They must therefore be reminded, again and again and again, that socialism isn’t just another political party; it’s the death knell to freedom. So remember, while McCain wants to change DC, Obama wants to change America.

I hope you don't get what you asked for.

Lisa said...

Wow! Those pictures were amazing!! What a cool experience. By the way, the post from above is why I usually steer clear of politics. Calm down people! Regardless, of anyone's politics - this is a historic day for America.

Daddio said...

Note to Anonymous:

First of all, I'm open to the dissenting opinion of others, but I'd prefer to have a healthy debate with someone did not hide behind anonymity.

Labelinng Obama a socialist implies that he is communist, which he is absolutely not. Obama's ideas are not a death knell to freedom, as you describe, but a harbinger of freedom.

Your remarks lead me to believe that you've been unaffected by the current state of the economy. Apparently you don't mind paying the highest gas prices in history all the while oil companies are earning record profits in the tens of billions of dollars each quarter. Perhaps your job or those of your friends and family haven't been sent overseas and feel secure with your level of income. Maybe you haven't been burdened with hospital bills that have taken you to the brink of bankruptcy. I suppose the value of your house hasn't been affected by the collapse of the real estate market. I guess you wouldn't benefit from a tax break because you earn more than $250,000 a year.

I certainly would welcome the financial freedom you apparently have. I believe Obama's plans will allow my family and I to have a lifestyle that is equal to yours.

Daddio said...

Note to Anonymous:

First of all, I'm open to the dissenting opinion of others, but I'd prefer to have a healthy debate with someone did not hide behind anonymity.

Labelinng Obama a socialist implies that he is communist, which he is absolutely not. Obama's ideas are not a death knell to freedom, as you describe, but a harbinger of freedom.

Your remarks lead me to believe that you've been unaffected by the current state of the economy. Apparently you don't mind paying the highest gas prices in history all the while oil companies are earning record profits in the tens of billions of dollars each quarter. Perhaps your job or those of your friends and family haven't been sent overseas and feel secure with your level of income. Maybe you haven't been burdened with hospital bills that have taken you to the brink of bankruptcy. I suppose the value of your house hasn't been affected by the collapse of the real estate market. I guess you wouldn't benefit from a tax break because you earn more than $250,000 a year.

I certainly would welcome the financial freedom you apparently have. I believe Obama's plans will allow my family and I to have a lifestyle that is equal to yours.

Anonymous said...

Daddio
I apologize for remaining anonymous but I have debated too many caught up in the irrational euphoria of anything but Bush and the incensed anger at any criticism of Obama that I have to protect my identity, and I fail to see how revealing myself to someone I do not know can aid our exchange. My primary hope is that the ‘on mike’ Obama is the one elected not the ‘off mike’ Obama comments such as ‘spreading around wealth’ are not new and have typically lead to bad results. Unlike your assumption I would probably benefit greatly by the promises Obama made. Telling 95% of the population they will get a ride on the backs of 5% is really not a hard sell but it is a slippery slope. Where is the incentive to risk time and resources to generate wealth if the hoped result will be collected by the government and redistributed to those who did not face risk. What is the incentive for a student to accumulate significant debt to become a doctor and work excessive hours to hit some arbitrary threshold to the compensation for his sacrifice collected and redistributed. It is never ‘sold’ to the masses as ‘socialism’ or ‘communism’ it is sold as fairness. Then the process starts with small concessions as the 5% stop overexerting themselves or leave the country the bar has to be moved lower and the government needs to take more to keep their controlled base happy.

I hope this is not the ball we started rolling and all will be good I just have concerns with the comments Obama has made off script and the associations he has kept. All of these have been heard to say extreme regarding government control of wealth and the lengths they are willing to go to achieve their goals.

Sincerely
Anon.

jen said...

Hey, thanks for posting the pics! You had near rockstar status, apparently, to get so close. I was watching on the tele (because my ancestors are British) and was amazed out the size of the crowd: awe-inspiring. It must've been incredible to be a part of it.

Too bad folks are posting anti-Obama rhetoric here when your original post was not to solicit debate but to chronicle the experience and importance of the event to your family. There's certainly nothing to debate about that. There are plenty of political debate forums out there where this type of commentary is more appropriate.

QGIRL said...

Thanks for your comment Jen. My thoughts EXACTLY!

If you don't like what you see or read, move on to another blog.
Besides, as McCain said so eloquently and graciously in his concession speach, "The American people have spoken, and they have spoken clearly."

Amen to that.
America has chosen Obama. He is the right man at the right time. And it is has been a long time coming!

Anonymous said...

You guys are right this was not the place for my rant. I suspect we hope for the same thing, a bright future for our children. My prayer is that you were right and I am wrong. God Bless the USA.
Anon.

Diana said...

Wow! Great pix! I thought I was lucky when I managed to get into his rally in June at Joe Louis and got about 200 feet away. (Then again, I didn't have Jenny on my side!) Al Gore introduced him at that one, which was pretty cool.
E and I watched the election results with a big group at our Newsie bar downtown, and the owner passed out champagne when they called it for Obama. Everyone went nuts.
Regardless of where you stand politically, you have to admit this is an exciting time.

Daddio said...

Dear Anon.,

You're absolutely right. I believe you and I hope for a future where are children are happy, healthy and safe. I don't believe there's a right or wrong here, just a difference of opinion. Thanks for visiting our family blog.

Daddio said...

Hey Di, thanks for the comment! The VIP ticket didn't give me rock star status. All the people you see in my pics were in the VIP secion, too. I was only one of thousands in that area; there were 40,000 total at the rally. It was my camera's zoom lens that brought me up close and personal with Obama!

Come back to the site tomorrow night to see the pics we took at the Grant Park celebration after he was elected President. That was a night I'll remember for the rest of my life!