This is my first diary here, so take it easy on me. Last Tuesday night Barack Obama did a rally at Harbor Park in Norfolk, VA. My 16 year old younger daughter has been intensely interested in this election and really wanted to see Senator Obama. Norfolk is a two hour drive from Richmond and my wife and I discouraged the trip because 1)it was a school night 2)she would have to miss some field hockey practice and 3)it would be a long trip with no guarantee we would ever get in. My wife bowed out of the adventure, but my daughter and I started the two hour trip at around 5pm.
Obama would be speaking at 9:30, so we planned to arrive two hours early. Unfortunately arriving two hours early was probably eight hours too late to be able to actually see Barack Obama speak. Finding a parking space wasn't easy. We finally found a deserted industrial area near the park that had plenty of on-street parking, but it didn't look terribly safe. It was isolated and except for two college aged kids with skate boards, not a person was to be seen for a couple of hundred yards. After we parked the car we walked about a half a mile to the stadium and found the line waiting to get in. We followed the line and followed the line and followed the line as it wound through city streets. Just as we thought we might be near the end, we would realize there was a lot more to follow. We must have walked for way over a mile. There were thousands of people. We got friendly with the people around us and patiently waited as the line barely moved for over an hour.
It was really cold. The temperature felt like it was in the low forties and the wind was howling. My daughter started to complain about her fingers getting cold as she had left in the car the gloves my wife insisted she take. Along the route to the stadium we passed people that sent a chill up my spine. I would have rather run into an army of McCain
supporters than one of these freaks. One person had a sign that read:
GOD WILL JUDGE YOU
There was more that I couldn't read, but it is probably better that way. I have a few other photos of some of the more interesting protesters. At one point we watched a large panel truck with the whole side of it covered with a large photo of an an abortion. Once I realized what it was, I turned away and grabbed my daughters attention. I guess these people are everywhere, but being in close proximity to them spooked us all. The crowd around me was happy I was taking pictures of these people. Some whack-job handed my daughter a small card with the type of stuff you see on these signs. A nice woman in the crowd we had befriended grabbed the card from my daughter and threw it to the ground. It was a strange journey we experienced to Harbor Park, once we had arrived there.
At about 8:30 PM the line started moving at a good pace and rapidly we approached the stadium. As we waited, Senator Obama drove by in his motorcade and waved at the crowd as he passed. Then amazingly they let us enter the stadium and stand in the outfield. The outfield wasn't a great place to see the Senator, but at least they had a large TV screen on the scoreboard. It was sort of surreal standing there in that large crowd as we cheered, screamed and chanted with our backs to Obama. AIG Insurance had space on the scoreboard, which I found funny.
The speech started about 15 minutes early and then went on for about 45 minutes. It was a good speech, most of which I had already heard on POTUS 08, but the crowd is what made that impetuous journey so worthwhile. These were happy people, sensing victory around the corner. These were hopeful people and you could see it on their faces. The speech was over soon and people started pouring out of the stadium.
I happened to hear earlier in the day that Obama would be doing a media event immediately after the speech. That most likely meant he was still in the stadium. I mentioned that to my daughter and she pointed out the police and cars in a garage door at the base of the stadium. Since we hadn't had the chance to photograph the candidate, I suggested we wait on the path he would be likely to exit. Within a few minutes the bet had paid off, because the police cleared the path and forced people back about twenty feet from the roadway. The security seemed really good, which is nice. For some reason it appeared the cop in front of me really didn't want us to take pictures, because he stayed in front of us. Wherever we moved he moved and as the car drove by he even got more aggressive with his posturing to get between us and the motorcade. Maybe the two of us with DSLRs appeared to be threatening in some way or maybe I am being paranoid but my daughter agreed his actions were strange. Oh well, whatever it takes to keep the future President safe. I managed to somehow fire off one horrible shot that you can see Barack in. I enhanced it a little around the car window, which makes it look as if a light were on. There was no light.
We got back to our car and arrived home at 12:39 AM that evening.