I really wanted to do it. Listen to Obama speak, not on TV, but in real! So I signed up for a political event organised by ‘Hillary for America’ where he was going to speak. It was close by, at the University of North Florida. He was to speak at 1.45 pm and we were told that the gates would open by 12pm.

An email cofirmation also informed us that:

Please be aware that your RSVP is sufficient enter the event, but neither your RSVP nor a physical ticket will guarantee admission. The event will fill up on a first come first serve basis, so please plan to arrive early.

So we figured we should be there by 11 am. But alas, we were so wrong. By the time we reached the campus, we saw a long, long queue and later realized it was not just one but three long, serpentine queues of people waiting to get it in. The capacity of the arena was about 8000 people so we did not give up and decided to walk a mile to reach the end of the general queue.

Before we did that, we were cluelessly standing in a VIP queue only to later realize after overhearing someone’s conversation that we did not have the blue or red VIP passes, and therefore had to be part of the general queue. How I wish that that had been made clear by the organisers.

After three hours of finally waiting in the general queue, we were informed that the arena was packed to full capacity. So we departed. Disappointed. But luckily, we got to see the President’s all black motorcade.

Here’s a photo essay from our visit. (which I dedicatedly live-tweeted from the scene)

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Parking info to greet us. The original parking was full so we drove to another location from where we really had to walk to reach the queue.
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At first, we stood in the wrong queue – this one was only for VIPs. Wish there was a board or something that gave this info to visitors.
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VIP queue members had special red and blue tickets – some were volunteers, some said their senators gave it to them.
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The front half of the mile-long general queue
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We walked, and walked. There were several senior citizens too. I did not see any separate queue for them.

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There was a group rallying another cause at the site.
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This was their cause.

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Our place in the queue
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Smiling cause we finally made it.
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Nasty Woman tees being sold
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Some Madam President tees and badges
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Those who couldn’t stand decided to sit.
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Obama bags being sold in a cart
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My selfie after waiting for over an hour and a lot of walking. We were told the arena was full by now and there was another viewing place that was being filled.
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Garbage collection. All this was produced by the long queue
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The final wait before we were told to disperse. There were hundreds of people before and after me.
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UNF police telling us thank you for showing up
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Trump supporters passing by.

I just found this video on YouTube that clearly shows how early I should have been camping at the UNF to see Obama – 7.30am!

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