Fri September 7, 2012
Thousands Travel To Charlotte To (Sort Of) See President Obama
The Democratic National Convention’s grand finale was Thursday night. But instead of tens of thousands of people watching the president in Bank of America Stadium, a much smaller crowd packed into Time Warner Cable Arena. That left many people spilling into theaters, bars and the streets to see the president’s speech on TV.
Outside the arena, it seemed like just about everyone had a ticket that wasn’t any good to the president’s speech.
Gale Wyche drove five hours from Virginia to see him in the Panthers’ stadium. Instead of waiting in line there to see him in person, she was waiting in the lobby of the McGlohon Theater to see him on TV. But Wyche said she’s still glad she came.
"The atmosphere is fine, the people have just been remarkable," Wyche said. "Everybody’s been friendly and whatnot, and one thing you can’t control is the weather."
In fact, it was a clear but muggy night - no big thunder storms during the president's speech. That was the fear that caused the DNC to move indoors.
There was a problem with the video at the McGlohon, so Wyche and the rest of that crowd moved to the Belk Theater on Tryon Street.
About 500 people applauded loudly during Vice President Joe Biden’s speech there. In the lobby, Amy Adams says she and 18 of her friends drove here from Furman University in Greenville, South Carolina. They all had tickets to the stadium. But Adams also said it was still worth the trip.
"It was honestly just great to walk around Charlotte," Adams said. "It’s just been great to be surrounded by a bunch of other people who are cheering and excited about what’s going on."
That was really the spirit of the night. People drove or flew in from places like Detroit, Atlanta and Portland. And even though they didn’t get to see the president take the stage in person, many of them still made the most of it.
At the Epicentre, for example, a large crowd gathered to watch the convention on an outdoor screen, and they went nuts when the president took the mic.
Quentin Jackson and Asa Fludd were two of the people cheering, and they also had tickets to the stadium. But they said they liked the energy at the Epicentre.
"Everybody was excited," Jackson said. "Everybody was ready for change, basically."
And Fludd said everyone was "passionate - more so passionate than anything."
Fellow ticket-holder Brigitte Morris had this glass-half-full take:
"I think the upside is that people are still able to move around, check out the sights and things in the area, and just find a comfortable place for them to hear what’s going on," Morris said.
And here’s Jahari Soward who, yes, also had a ticket:
"It was unfortunate that I didn’t get a chance to see him in person," Soward said. "But to be here and have people around you that supported him was worthwhile."
Even though the grand finale of the DNC was downsized from a football stadium to a basketball arena, many of the people shut out were still happy to be in uptown Charlotte.