I promise. And that's not a politician's promise either. I do not affiliate myself with any particular political party. I simply want to share my experiences, which were the first of this kind for me.
Last Saturday, a friend called and asked if I would want to go to hear Sarah Palin speak in nearby Fort Wayne, Indiana. "You betcha!" LOL.
The doors opened at 4:00, but we arrived at the Allen County Memorial Coliseum at 2:45 and there was already a long line forming that wound around the south side and started snaking around the parking lot. It was a windy and chilly 47° and we stood in it for over three hours. The security check was taking quite a bit of time, so the line moved slowly.
All the available tickets had been given out (7800) and there were VIP tickets in addition, which could be had for making campaign phone calls. (No thanks!) The time seemed to pass rather quickly though, because we chatted with others in line, discussing the election, the candidates, and the issues. There were interesting things to see as well.
A patriotic family...
We noticed the large number of young people, which was heartening. There were lots of families with their children. Several members of our armed forces were standing in line with us. A couple of members of the Mad Ants basketball team and their mascot stopped by to say hi.
Once inside, we had to go through a security check, which involved opening our purses, removing our coats, watches, and any change in our pockets. We were required to turn on any electronics, such as our cell phone and camera. If they wouldn't turn on, they were taken if you still wanted to be admitted. We then walked through a metal detector and I was scanned with a wand because I caused the metal detector to beep. The metal button on my pants was the culprit.
We quickly took our seats and a short time later, local Republican officials gave short speeches. Then Hank Williams, Jr. took the stage and sang a few songs before introducing Sarah Palin.
With Piper leading the way, Sarah and her husband Todd, along with their older daughter Willow, walked down the runway to the stage. As you can imagine, the noise from the crowd was deafening.
Our seats were to the podium's right and though we weren't close enough for me to get good close-up photos with the zoom feature on my camera, the Jumbotron gave good views.
She spoke for 40 minutes, then she went into the crowd where she shook hands and signed a few autographs. We left while that was still going on. It was an exciting place to be, as the headlines indicated in Sunday morning's paper:
More images from the rally:
I decided to go up the night before and spend the night at Kara's, as did my niece Sarah, who was also attending the rally. Sarah's sister Renee drove up early the day of the rally and the four of us bundled up and headed downtown to get in line at 5:30 a.m. Most people know I am a night owl but I can get up early when I have to. I don't stumble around like a zombie either. My feet hit the floor and my mouth flies open. LOL.
We got down there and no, we weren't the first in line. About thirty people were ahead of us in our line and there was another one on the other side of the blocked-off area with a similar number of people in it.
Unlike Governor Palin's rally on Saturday, this one was not to be held inside. With the rally not starting until 9:00 a.m., we had a 3½-hour wait in below-freezing weather (29° F). I was glad that I'd dressed for it.
They still had to set up the magnetrons for the security checks, so we watched that. The media had already arrived and were doing some filming and even some broadcasting already. Rick Small from the Defiance radio station WDFM was giving live reports and at one point walked over to us and interviewed the four of us. He had recognized Kara from the many times she'd been to the radio station doing ads for her company.
The media was gathered in their designated area on a raised platform behind us.
We observed security on the roofs of the buildings around us.
The atmosphere became more electric as officials arrived and took their places on stage. Soon, Secret Service did a final sweep and McCain's entourage, which included his wife Cindy and daughter Meghan, arrived to cheers and applause.
Our district's state representative, Bob Latta, introduced Mrs. McCain, who gave a short speech about why her husband should be the next President.
Mrs. McCain then introduced South Carolina Senator Lindsey Graham, who has been McCain's best friend for the last 20 years.
Senator Graham took the podium and announced that at that moment he was John McCain's "frozen friend," then spoke about why he believed that McCain was the best choice to become the next President of the United States.
When Senator McCain took the podium, it was clear that he was among friends at this rally, though there were Obama supporters just across the street. We did see some "Democrats for McCain" in the crowd. I didn't doubt that there were some Democrats that supported McCain just as there are Republicans supporting Obama, but this was the first time I'd seen any sign of formal public support.
McCain spoke for a little less than thirty minutes, then left the stage and shook hands in the crowd before leaving for his next campaign stop in Mentor, Ohio. It was estimated that there were 10,000 people in attendance at this rally. Defiance has a population of about 16,000.
Other images from the McCain rally:
Kara and me at the rally
Meghan and Cindy McCain
They must bring these large letters to every campaign stop. These say "VICTORY IN OHIO". At the rally with Governor Palin, they said "INDIANA (heart) PALIN".