Well, our little adventure Monday went remarkably well. I picked Little Sis up at school and stopped at home to get organized. We arrived at Chiquita’s in time for the end of her exercise class, and Little Sis got to collect everyone’s exercise bands and pass out Halloween treat bags. I left Little Sis in the dining room with Chiquita for lunch, praying that Little Sis would be “good” and that Chiquita wouldn’t have a bad day.
Another quick stop at home to pick up mittens and a sweater, and I was off to pick up Big Sis from school. We stopped at a convenience store for a bathroom break, a change of clothes for Big Sis (from a skort to long pants), and beverages for the road: pumpkin spice coffee for me, chocolate milk for her.
The rest of the drive was uneventful. We pulled off the ramp and headed toward Mellon Arena to see THRONGS of people lined up for blocks. It was what I expected, of course, but it made for a nice spectacle for Big Sis. I waited patiently in traffic, hoping I’d be directed to parking. Every lot I could see was packed. While I waited, I spotted a parking attendant waving cars into his lot, though the sign said “Full.” We pulled in, paid our $5.75, and were directed to a parking spot just a couple hundred yards from the door to Mellon Arena. Sweet.
We layered ourselves warmly, pulled on mittens and hoods, and filled our pockets (there were no bags allowed): Magic Tree House books for Big Sis, wallet, keys and cell phone for me. We locked the car and headed over to The Line. People were all facing downhill, so we trudged up the hill with dozens of other people, looking for the end of the line.
We found it two blocks later. Everyone lined up amiably and settled in to wait the last half hour before doors opened. I sipped my coffee, Big Sis pulled out her book. A few people wondered aloud whether we’d make it inside before the place filled up. Three college girls were in front of us, and a young family with a four-year-old boy and and 18-month-old girl were behind us. Volunteers buzzed by us, urging us to sign up for a shift to volunteer the last few days before the election. Perched near the top of a hill, the cold wind blew right through us.
I was accosted by a volunteer. I agreed to sign up, hoping I could volunteer at my polling place on Tuesday. Just as I finished filling out the form, the line started to move.
About an hour and about six blocks later, we stepped inside Gate Ten of Mellon Arena. “Don’t worry,” I told Big Sis, “I can see the metal detectors from here.”
We passed through security and followed the crowd up to the second level. We found seats halfway up on the aisle. We peeled off our layers and settled in to wait a while longer.
“How much longer, Mom?”
After reading a while, she saw other people with popcorn and hot dogs. ” Mom, I’l STARRRR-VING!”
She had promised not to get hungry until AFTER the rally. I’d packed snacks in the car.
So we left our coats as seatholders and headed back out to the concourse. She spotted the ladies’ room. So we stopped there. Then to the concession stand for popcorn. While we were in line, Obama’s warm-up act started: Sen. Bob Casey and Gov. Ed Rendell.
We got back to our seats in time to catch Dan Rooney, owner of the Pittsburgh Steelers, endorse Obama and present him with a Steelers jersey with “Obama 08″ on the back of it.
The crowd went wild. I half expected to see Terrible Towels.
Barack began his speech. I can’t say it was anything new; I’d heard him make similar points in news clips and sound bites. But the energy in Mellon Arena was incredible. Hope oozed out of the rafters.
A couple times I looked over at Big Sis to make sure she was getting all this. In the beginning, she was up on her feet cheering with the crowd. Then she stayed seated for a while. Moments later, her nose was back in her book. But hey…who can blame her? She’s seven. What does she care about tax policy?
All in all it was a great experience, and a good excuse for some mommy-daughter time. I’m hoping that one day she’ll be able to tell her children and grandchildren that “I was there when….”
I’ll post pictures when I can.