Wednesday, September 05, 2012

Charlotte: People, and rain, everywhere

The second dispatch from Jerry Gettinger, our correspondent at the DNC -

Charlotte, North Carolina is a Jewel! 
The city is not large and the result of that is one might call this beautiful town “Democracyville.” Downtown, which the natives call ”uptown”, is literally swarming with Democrats. 
Add demonstrators, (both for and against any and everything), police and security that makes the most stringent airport look unmanned, and the media, and the result is a carnival atmosphere. Everyone, and I mean everyone, is very friendly and anxious to have us all feel welcome and comfortable. It appears that the convention attendees have joined into the festivities which can only be described as one big family reunion. It puts me in mind of Mardi Gras in New Orleans. All that is needed is decorated floats and streamers. Just amazing.

I have to spend a few minutes talking about the security. One report on the local news said that 10,000 extra police have been brought in. I believe it. Every street bordering the Time Warner Cable Center has been closed and the various delivery vehicles are subject to intense and complete scrutiny. Every building uptown has several guards and they mean business. I overheard one exchange between a TV announcer and a guard. The guard said “if you want to push it I can push too. But I guarantee I will push a hell of a lot harder than you.” The TV announcer didn’t argue. A wise choice.

Inside the center, the entire scenario that was taking place outside was continuing inside. It was wall to wall people everywhere. I estimate that there were two members of the press for every attendee.
The carnival atmosphere was just exciting and overwhelming all at once. A great people-watching place. The surprising and enjoyable part is that the majority of people were smiling. Wow. As you can imagine, the lines to the concessions were huge. They moved fast, but they were still long. I had gotten up from my seat to get a bottle of water for a friend who was handicapped and myself. I stopped a guide to ask if there were any stand s in other parts of the center since the closest one was inundated. A young woman overheard me talking, put her hand on my shoulder and bid me to follow her. She said that she had water in the refrigerator. I wasn’t quite sure what she meant, but it couldn’t be worse than waiting in line. It turned out she worked at a souvenir stand. She grabbed two bottles of water from the cooler and handed them to me. I offered her a fiver. She waived her hand and said it was a gift. Amazing.

It has rained every day. More later.

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