Today we went to the Obama rally in Española, 20 miles north of Santa Fe. I am on the Obama mailing list, so received an email about the event on Monday. I got my ticket online, signed up Steve and got a ticket for him. On Tuesday they announced the event in the local paper, the Santa Fe New Mexican.
Our ticket said the gates opened at 10:30, but the newspaper said the event began at 12:30, so we left home just after 11:00am. Española is the town we drive through on the way to Taos or up to Durango and we don’t know it well. The event was in the plaza and I didn’t know Española had a main plaza (duh!).
We spent about 15 minutes driving around Española looking for the plaza and finally came upon the crowds of cars. The newspaper said 7,500 people were expected. At first I thought “yikes – too many people” then I remembered a friend telling me that 50,000 people go to the weekend football games in Boulder (and we should think about that when considering moving there) – so 7,500 is nothing.
We parked along the highway about two blocks from the plaza (and a very nice plaza it is with a historic church and a big grassy area) and walked with a lot of other people arriving the same time as us. There was a long line, so we walked some more – about two blocks up a hill to what we thought was the end, but then it turned and there was another block and then it turned (heading back to the highway) but it ended there. We joined the line.
People were going along the line handing out (free) bottles of water. Some people were selling Obama buttons.
The line moved fast and everyone was chatting, so time passed quickly. We were in line for about 30 minutes. We had to go through security to get onto the plaza. Two guys ahead of me had pocket knives and had to either go back to their car or give up the knives and never see them again (they gave up the knives). Our ticket had said to not bring bags, so we only had what was in our pockets (I brought my camera).
The event had started by the time we got into the plaza. They did start as scheduled at 12:30, but we did not see Obama until closer to 2pm.
First someone from New Mexico spoke, then lots of music playing over loudspeakers – for about an hour. The crowd was pretty calm and everyone was excited. There were some food booths (and they had a vegetarian menu!!). Off to the side there were about 20 porta-potties. The whole thing was really well organized with lots of volunteers helping.
At about 1:30 a big black bus drove by and the crowd began to shout – it was Obama arriving. He had been in Albuquerque in the morning, meeting with local tribal leaders and was returning to Albuquerque, after the event, for a fund-raiser. Bill Richardson, the govenor of New Mexico, came onto the stage at 1:45 and did a good ten minute introduction. I had never seen Richardson in person, so that was an added bonus.
But, I was there to see OBAMA. When he came on stage at about 2pm it was magic. The crowd went wild, I went wild (Steve too). We were at the back of the crowd but we could see him easily.
Obama spoke for about 45 minutes. Some of it was familiar from seeing him on TV, some of it was about New Mexico and getting out the hispanic vote, some of it was about the current financial meltdown. I am still totally buzzed from having seen him. The speech was inspiring and invigorating.
I am glad that we went to the event and I hope I just saw the next president of the United States. I have only seen one other president – Jimmy Carter spoke at a High School Administrators conference that I attended over 20 years ago in San Francisco (I used to be in the school admin software business – Steve still is).
After Obama finished speaking, he spent about 20 minutes working his way around the front row of the crowds surrounding the stage. Many people left, so we moved closer. I could not see him well, but as he was leaving he stood up on something and waved goodbye to everyone.
As we were walking back to the car we were beside the same people that we had walked in with. One of them told me the only other president he has seen was Kennedy, when he spoke from the back of a train on one of the whistle-stop tours.
The most unorganized part of the event was leaving Espanola. It took 30 minutes to get back onto the highway to Santa Fe. When we got home we realized we both got sunburned. Normally we are working inside our dark office during the sunny hot middle of the day!!