Today is the big day! More then a dozen of our faithful Gaters are supposed to meet up in Washington D.C. today, in about half an hour, actually. The organization so far went very smoothly.
We hope to receive some reports and pictures in real time, and we will constantly add new information to this post.
Kathleen just spoke to Mrs. TBB on the phone, and she said that the atmosphere there is simply wonderful.
We also received a message from from NYCgirl two hours ago, who wrote:
"Arianna greeted the bus crowd at 5:30AM.
She is stunning in person. She let me give her a kiss on the cheek.
We are finally on the bus. I hardly slept but I don't care.
Love you guys. Please post.
Live, Laugh, Love"
So far, I found the following live streams to the rally:
The "official" live stream from Comedy Central is HERE.
Washington Post has another live stream.
Comedy Central publishes pictures from the event in "real-time" here.
The live stream of C-SPAN is HERE.
I just spoke to Comeonpeople and VirginiaVoter on the phone, and everybody is in great spirits. It's a huge crowd there, and they are all very excited. We hope to receive pictures from our Gaters soon.
We received a picture of some of our Gaters at the rally - look at the great Palingates scarves! :-)
SCREENSHOTS OF THE HUGE CROWD:
VirginaVoter sent us more photos from the rally:
Great sign, seen on twitter:
The epic "battle" between Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert and Yusuf/Cat Stevens, Ozzy Osbourne and the O'Jays is already on youtube:
I would like to include the famous "home version" of "Peace Train" - what a beautiful song, what a great idea by Jon Stewart to invite him:
Kathleen and I just spoke on the phone to several of our Gaters, and they had interesting stories to tell. First I talked to Joe Christmas who just drove back with his children. He lives close to Washington D.C. and said that he has never ever seen a crowd like that. It was impossible for them to reach the Mall, because the Metro was completely flooded with people, and there was the longest line to the ticket counter he has ever seen (see also the picture below!).
Then Kathleen and I managed to talk to CaliGirl22, Vera City and PCG. Kathleen also earlier talked to Mrs TBB and VirginiaVoter. They all had a great day, but they said that the crowd apparently hugely exceeded the expectations. In the back of the crowd, people could neither hear nor see, because the speakers weren't loud enough. It's apparent that the organizers wildly underestimated the number of visitors while they planned the event.
Some of the Gaters will return tonight, and especially Very City has a long way, she will drive back with the bus tonight, which will take about 12 hours to Canada. Others are staying in D.C. over the night, we are trying to hook up CaliGirl22 together with Comeonpeople for the evening, not sure if we were successful so far. ;-)
They all think that there were far more than 250.000 people, probably around 400.000. And don't forget that there was probably a significant number of people who didn't even make it to the Mall, like Joe Christmas!
It was a memorable and exciting day for everyone!
A very strong statement by modern America was made today, against hate, fear and bigotry.
Here are some pictures I found earlier on twitter:
Pearlygirl sent more pictures. These are particularly interesting, because they show very well how tightly the crowd was "packed." Pearlygirl wrote: "A very tall man offered to put me on his shoulders so I took some overhead shots of the crowd."
I had some fun with one of the signs which were photographed at the rally - Pearlygirl also sent me a picture of a woman who moved away from Alaska about a year ago and who was wearing a t-shirt with exactly the same slogan. I guess she knew why...
I tried to get a better comparison between the "Beck rally" and the "Stewart rally" from an "overhead" perspective. Therefore I diligently reconstructed the areas in which the crowds were present.
Here is a picture from the Beck rally, as seen from the Washington Monument:
And here is a picture of the rally today, also seen from the Washington Monument, with another picture next to it in order to get a better feel for the area:
If you mark these areas on the map, accurately and without distortions, from the stage to the end of the crowds, you get this picture (download the map as PDF):
There is of course the long "Reflecting Pool" within the "Beck rectangle." Also, my impression is that the audience at Jon Stewart's rally today was much tighter packed. So hopefully this is an interesting comparison.
Here is a great "close-up" shot of the crowd, taken from Washington Monument:
Our reader comeonpeople sent more pictures, with more sweet signs:
Buzzfeed has a great collection of "The 100 Best Signs At The Rally To Restore Sanity And/Or Fear", although there were certainly hundreds, if not thousands another excellent signs.
Included in the collection is a really funny one about the Alaskan Ice Queen: