It was big. I mean, I've done large events on the mall before, but most of them involve motion. (Things like the Walk for the Cure.) So, I guess I've managed to avoid many of the large stand in one place and all stare at the same thing things. My first clue was the insane traffic on my street. The sardine packed metro trains were the second. When I got on the third train (by standing like a tourist on the edge of the platform and lucking out when the door ended up right in front of me) Archives station had shut down due to a suspicious package. Heading down Seventh Street, all I could see was a sea of people. (And seriously, it seems like the reported numbers indicate that this was a sort of medium sized event. I suspect my decision to watch larger events from my couch has been a wise one.)
There were some good signs. One of my favorites (which, sadly, I did not get a picture of) was, "Yes, Virginia, there is a Sanity Clause."
People were climbing anything climbable - stop lights, sculptures, trees. It became clear why - the sound system was not quite up to the crowd and the wind and the masses. Sometimes you could hear, but more often it was like listening to a flickering radio, catching words here and there.
If I held my camera up it looked like this:
This is what it looked like from my eye level:
At one point there was some excitement in my section when one dude began trying to climb up a tree (I don't know if he was friends with the folks already up there or not). He had some struggles, lead to the crowd chanting encouragement, including, "Go! Go! Go!" and, "Yes you can!" and, "Almost there!". He did finally make it up to where there were some branches.
After a bit, I grew tired of being squished on all sides and moved over to the lawn by the Gallery of Art where you could still hear, but I could sit, and knit, and reach out my hands and not touch anybody! Some folks tried to creep up to a fence by the back area of the gallery, only to be shooed away by a security guard.
Some of my favorite signs were about DC rights, what can I say.
Having experienced the joy of riding metro down, and seeing the updates about continuing madness, I decided walking home was a better choice. Interestingly (or perhaps not, considering the theme of the rally) I was far from the only person with this idea. Sure, a few people stopped off at bars and restaurants along the way. (Seriously, I saw nothing that didn't look far busier than usual for mid-afternoon. Not in Penn Quarter, not in Mt. Vernon, not in Logan, not in Columbia Heights.) The crowd of folks headed north continued all the way back, such that a curious guy in front of an apartment building on 14th wanted to know if there was a party.
I headed off for a nice relaxing drink before making it home. And then I read up on the parts I couldn't hear. (TBD has a lot of coverage, like this.)