This intrepid Minneapolis Disability Examiner decided she couldn't miss President Barack Obama's Minneapolis healthcare rally. So, at 8 a.m. this morning I wheeled to the bus stop outside my door and about 30 minutes later made my way, with thousands of others to Target Center. Despite massive security everywhere, no one directed me to where I should go. But, I quickly spotted a group of people winding around Butler Square on 6th and First Ave., and as I turned the corner spotted a much smaller crowd of other wheelers.
The fall weather today was gorgeous -- the predicted rain held off and the sun was shining. At one point, the crowd waiting with me were asked to line up against the wall and we quipped that we hoped this wasn't a death panel plot to kill off all the gimps!
As we started to move into the building I overhead a couple behind me say they'd been waiting since 8:30 p.m. the previous night. I let them go ahead of me once we made it upstairs to security. The woman in front of me was busted for bringing in a huge backpack with water and canned soda. She was able to keep her backpack after they emptied it of the contraband. No one mentioned my Target water bottled nestled next to my left hip. (Big hips come in handy sometimes, I guess). Once we made it through the metal detectors we were asked to line up again and wait for the drug sniffing dog who would do a final search of our wheelchairs. After about 10 minutes, we heard the dog was at lunch and we were left with just a man down on all fours frisking our equipment in every nook and cranny imaginable.
Once inside the Target Center, the atmosphere was part carnival, part sporting event (does any other part of the country still do the wave?), part politcal rally. We were seated early in the back row of the main floor seats. Section by section, people filled the seats around the main floor and then the upper level. By showtime the arena was almost, but not quite full.
The crowd around me started guessing how late the President would be. Surprisingly, not very. A roar went up from the crowd as the big screens showed the President landing at the airport about 12:10 p.m.
When the first notes of "Hail to the Chief" started to play the crowd went wild. Yes, this is the "Rock Star" President. The energy level was high and Pres. Obama seemed determined and forceful in his message. He received lots of laughs also, especially when he told the story of how his "fired up" theme started on the campaign trail in South Carolina. Perhaps we can call him the "Storyteller in Chief?" Say what you will about his policies, his personality, his charisma is magic.
And then, it was done. More waiting, more lines. But, all-in-all, this was a good adventure with no major mishaps.