DENVER, Colo. - The Barack Obama Campaign reached a new political milestone in the Mile High City Sunday.
More than 100,000 people gathered in Civics Center Park in downtown Denver. The crowd equaled, if not surpassed, the previous record crowd Obama attracted in St. Louis, Missouri on October 18.
The campaign officials and event organizers considered the rally as a tremendous success despite limited publicity and details. Even the location of the volunteers meeting was unknown just four days prior to the rally. However, about 1,500 committed volunteers showed up for training on a Saturday night at Manual High School. Kevin Puleo, Field Director for the Colorado Campaign for Change, described the level of involvement as "unprecedented" and "inspiring." Volunteers were divided between those who would sign potential voters to help Get Out The Vote (GOTV) or with logistical duties of the rally.
The most dedicated of volunteers began their shift at 6 AM, a full 6 hours before Senator Obama would speak to the public. They helped with helping finalize setting up various props and boundaries of the rally.
I arrived at 7:30 AM to my appointed location along with my team of volunteers. I was to be in charge of keeping the line of people orderly, assuring a smooth flow of the line and asking people to refrain from taking any prohibited items into the rally. Having arrived from mild and mostly sunny Los Angeles, the crisp, October air combined with the icy wind chill served as an additional test on my ability to uphold my responsibilities.
The throng of people who showed up were extremely enthusiastic about the prospect of seeing and hearing their candidate of choice live. People traveled from all over Colorado, near and far. The cold temperature and incessant wind could not deter their zeal. Even a tiny group of anti-abortion protestors along with a singular McCain-Palin protestor could not dampen the spirit and fervor of the people in line.
For about five hours, I helped usher in a mass influx of spectators while constantly warming my hands and praying that the sun would somehow penetrate the large buildings blocking its warmth. I politely asked some in line to get rid of their homemade signs, chairs and blankets. I also informed viewers to remove all electronic devices from any pockets, bags or purses and turn them "On" for inspection at security. This request elicited several curious inquiries ranging from a bewildered "Are they taking it from us?" to a simple "Why?" I frequently assured them that their electronics were safe and only needed to be inspected to ensure that they were real. Other volunteers actively sought to register people to volunteer the last remaining week of the campaign and reminded people to vote early if possible. The nonstop volunteer work and interaction with supporters seemed to catalyze the passing of time and made any discomfort bearable.
Finally, when all who had shown up for Obama had entered the rally grounds, the volunteers were generously allowed in to the "VIP" standing section nearest the stage. Once I found a suitable spot, I looked around to observe the sight. I had never seen so many people gathered at a political rally before, especially with such passion. It was hard not to get caught up in the excitement of the moment and setting.
Obama arrived to thunderous applause and supportive yelling. It felt like a superstar concert for a musical legend instead of a political rally for a relatively novice politician. With every lull and crescendo of his speech, Obama prompted chants of agreement and clapping full of emotion. You could feel energetic synergy of the massive crowd. The end of Obama's speech resulted in a hair-raising exultation of hope and admiration for the charismatic yet composed senator.
Though it remains to be seen if the ardor of this magnitude will result in an Obama victory of Colorado's electoral votes, it can definitively be stated that everyone who participated in his mile high rally is now a small part of American history.