I went to the Sarah Palin rally at Germain Arena in Estero yesterday. The rally itself was great. Getting in and getting out were stone cold hassles.
I went with one of my co-workers and her nephew. We got to the Arena around 12:30, and ended up parking at the end of nowhere in the Miromar Outlets parking lot. After a lengthy walk, we found the end of the snaking line to get into the arena. Here is how it looked when we started out:
That's also near the area where I got up close and personal with the pavement. When we were getting to the end of the line, there was a small hole in the ground by the curb, camouflaged by the grass. I tripped over it and fell, landing on my left knee and left hand. I ended up with a small scrape on the palm of my hand and thought at the time that was the worst of it.
The people in the crowd were a cross-section of southwest Florida, although I saw very few minorities. There were a lot of women of all ages, many wearing Sarah Palin t-shirts or buttons. There were also a handful of hippie-looking Obama supporters there to protest. They were about as welcome as a Red Sox fan in Yankee Stadium, or vice versa.
Anyway, we followed the long, snaking line as it wound back and forth, and about 2:15, we finally got to the front door. We were lucky; a lot of the people behind us got turned away because the arena was full. When we got to the door, we spotted this lady. I liked her sign:
When we got into the arena, we had to go through the metal detectors but nobody was checking tickets. The arena has a capacity of 7,000, and there were at least several hundred people on the floor as well. Needless to say, by the time we got in, there were no visible seats left, and no more people were being allowed on the floor. I managed to find some seats in the very last row, directly behind the podium: The worst seats in the place, in other words. On the other hand, I did make it in. The people I went with ended up at the top of the next section over, since Marcella's nephew knew some of the cops running security.
There were a few speeches by other Florida politicians, and then, finally, Sarah Palin made her entrance to thunderous applause from the crowd. I didn't get any good pictures inside, unfortunately. This is the best one I got:
Other then a few protesters, who were widely jeered by the crowd, the rest of us were receptive to Gov. Palin's speech. The crowd was very loud and enthusiastic. Afterward, she shook hands and signed autographs for some of the lucky people on the floor by the podium.
Then it was time to face the gauntlet of getting out. I swear, whoever set the event up did a terrible job. There should have been cops directing traffic out of the arena and the nearby parking lot. There was nothing, and it took us more than an hour to get out of the parking lot.
I noticed that my right ankle was getting more and more sore as we inched our way out of the parking lot. I dropped the others off at their cars and drove home, and when I finally got there, two hours after leaving the arena, I found that my ankle was so sore that it hurt to walk on it. There wasn't any real swelling, and it obviously wasn't broken or I wouldn't have been able to walk all over hell and gone earlier; it had just stiffened up. I took some aspirins and elevated it, but by work time, it was still too sore to walk on, so I called out. It's feeling better today, so hopefully I'll be able to go to work tonight.