It’s not often you get the chance to see a sitting President of the United States in person, so when we found out this past Wednesday that President Barack Obama was going to be speaking at a rally at St. Petersburg College, less than a mile from where we live well, we just had to go and be part of history!
Since we live so close to SPC, it was a no-brainer to ride our bikes over. This turned out to be a good (and obvious call) as the sheer number of people trying to get into the event was staggering. The gates opened at 8:30am but we didn’t arrive at the Seminole Library where we locked up the bikes until 9:15. By then, the line already stretched all the way from the security checkpoint at the front of campus, through the Seminole rec center parking lot with several switchbacks, and out along 113th Street. The line hardly moved at first but eventually it picked up and just over an hour later, at 10:30am, we were through security and in the middle of the huge crowd waiting to see President Obama.
The President took the stage at around 11:15am, after being introduced by former Florida governor Charlie Crist, and spoke for about half an hour to the cheering crowd.
Once we managed to get back to our bikes after the event ended, we rode over to Subway on 102nd Avenue to grab some lunch. Our original plan had been to grab breakfast before the rally, but once we saw that line we knew we had to get in it right away, so we were all hungry. During lunch we saw the police start blocking off the roads so we knew the presidential motorcade was going to pass by shortly. It turned out to be about 30 minutes later, but we got to see the big black bus with the presidential seal whiz by accompanied by numerous police motorcycles, cars, vans, ambulances, and trucks. It was an impressive sight and made a nice end to the whole morning before biking back home.
I have to say that the event was very well organized, even if the line to get in was crazy. The volunteers, Pinellas County sheriff and paramedic staffs, and security did a great job controlling traffic, helping people out, and providing plenty of free bottled water. Luckily the morning was mostly overcast so it wasn’t as terribly hot as it could have been with all those people standing in such close proximity to one another for so long.
You can read more about the event here.