So, we went to the Rally to Restore Sanity and/or Fear. Well, sort of. The trains were so crowded that we couldn't get on. We went several stops the wrong way, until we finally got to a platform near the beginning of the line where the trains weren't as full and we could get on. Then the trains took longer than usual because at every stop, more people would try to cram onto the train, and they wouldn't be able to get the doors closed. So we'd go through this lengthy process of the lady on the intercom scolding us about standing away from the doors, but no one could hear her, and the people at the doors would argue with the people trying to get on, and eventually they'd either squash the extra people in or persuade them to step off, and we'd finally get the doors clear and move again.
So, the tour of Metro stations was fun but it meant that we got to the rally about 1. Hours after the allocated space had been completely filled and we couldn't even get close. We couldn't see anything, couldn't even see if there were jumbotrons much less where. We could hear that people were talking, but couldn't tell what they were saying. I don't think we ever made it onto the actual mall. We were on one of the side streets next to the mall, packed in like sardines.
I heard that the permit said they were expecting 60,000 people, and that's what they had planned for, and they actually ended up with at least 215,000. I believe it. The part where we were fighting to move through a solid wall of people was fairly un-fun. (And the part where I got separated from our group was downright terrifying.) But when we moved back and got to a less dense area, it was pretty fun. Just watching the crowds, looking at costumes and reading people's signs. We didn't worry about missing out on the actual rally because we had set up the DVR to record in. (In fact, we're watching it right now.) Kinda like going to a Grateful Dead concert and staying in the parking lot the whole time.
My sign was a big hit. Not only did lots of people comment on it, but it was an invaluable tool to help our group stay together when the crowding was the worst. Georg took photos of me with each side:
Huffington Post and Talking Points Memo have good photo collections of costumes and signs. My favorite was one I didn't see on their sites: a guy dressed like Hitler standing on a crate. He was one of the first things I saw when we got to the rally. This sea of people, and whoa, there's Hitler! Holding a sign that said "No, I'm Hitler."
We left before the rally was over and didn't have any trouble getting on a train to go back to Chevy Chase. At first I was wishing we'd left early in the morning so we could have gotten close enough to see the actual rally. But as Georg pointed out, if we had gotten on the Metro at 9 instead of 11, we probably could have gotten a decent place on the mall. But, if we'd done that we would have been trapped behind 215,000 people all trying to exit at the same time. I heard that later in the afternoon it was as difficult to get on the Metro heading out of the city, as it had been to head towards the rally in the morning. Since we had to drive home last night after the rally, it's really good that we didn't get trapped in the middle of it.