From the DNC: Festivities, rain act as prelude to big event
By Isabella Fuentes
The 2012 Democratic National Convention (DNC) kicked off in high spirits yesterday, September 3, in Charlotte, NC. Well, almost kicked off anyway.
First, let me introduce myself. My name is Isabella Fuentes, and I am a politically minded high school student and Ballardite attending the DNC with the Junior State of America (JSA), a nonprofit organation aimed at fighting political apathy among youths. I'll be in Charlotte until Thursday, taking in the convention and all its activities (and blogging about them, of course), which will culminate with the acceptance of the Democratic nomination by President Barack Obama on Thursday night.
Back to the almost-kicked-off DNC. In all its infinite wisdom, the Democratic Committee scheduled its general election kick-off party/convention for Labor Day weekend and the week of. By the time the deluge of calls started coming in, reminding them that this was a colossally bad idea and begging them to reconsider, it was too late. So, the Labor Day activities faced the chopping block and, like the RNC, this convention will be just three days long, instead of the traditional four.
Instead, yesterday was occupied by the delightful, colorful CarolinaFest. Like a huge street fair, CarolinaFest is basically a celebration of all things Carolinian -- and at leas this year, Democratic -- with loads of southern food and Obama merchandise. Entertainment included actor/musician Jeff Bridges and NC's native son James Taylor, along with speakers such as Democratic National Committee Chairwoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz. Some eminent persons sighted by yours truly included CNN's Anderson Cooper, Fox News' Shepard Smith, Rep. Nancy Pelosi of (D-Calif.), and the MSNBC crew doing some live shows. It was a fun and festive atmosphere, with raucous discussion and laughter littering the streets of Charlotte.
And then it rained. Seattle rain is a constant presence but hardly a blip on the radar; in the Emerald City, one can go out and about and do things even with the precipitation. But in North Carolina, all activities came to a halt. In an attempt to prove that it isn't biased after sending Isaac the Republicans' way, the weather decided to rain on the Democrats' parade, causing downpours and wind so intense that a "Severe Storm Warning" was put in place for the next couple of days. This has caused real fears about the Thursday speech (the venue, the Bank of America Arena, has no roof). And not without cause: after dashing about 25 feet to the nearest awning I began to wring out my sopping shirt and found myself standing in a puddle of water. Now that's a rainstorm.
But almost as soon as it came, the rain disappeared and festivities continued as usual. As the Obama campaign prepared for their events inside Time Warner Cable Arena, where the major speakers like President Clinton and Vice President Biden will be speaking, the party picked back up outside. What I found out on the streets at CarolinaFest was an atmosphere of genuine camaraderie, with thousands of people united by their hopes and visions for our country. As chants of "four more years!" "fired up!" and "ready to go!" rang out in Charlotte I couldn't help but get caught up in all of the excitement. I felt part of something big and meaningful -- something with implications for our collective future. It's an incredible thing, taking thousands of diverse individuals unified by a common belief, putting them in the same place at the same time, and watching the magic (or havoc) they wreak. With the atmosphere this electric and the convention set to gavel in at 5 a.m. on Tuesday, I can only be ecstatic about the week to come.