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Political Rallies Bringing Thousands to City Parks

Gateway Arch, St. Louis - Wall Street Journal

Whatever the result of today’s election, its worth noting the remarkable amount of people that have visited city parks for mostly Barack Obama rallies this fall. Portland’s Tom McCall Waterfront Park saw 72,000 people this summer, and in recent weeks we’ve seen: 100,000 at the Gateway Arch park in St. Louis, 100,000 at Denver’s Civic Center Park and 25,000 in Des Moines’ Gateway Park. Most eye-popping may be tonight, when the Obama campaign is holding its election night festivities in Chicago’s Grant Park – with perhaps 1 million people expected, as predicted by Mayor Daley. (The linked article from Bloomberg also describes the protests from the 1968 Democratic convention.)

Park agencies and cities put a lot of work and sometimes money into these events – security measures involving utilities and police presence, redirecting traffic and closing streets and the maintenance issues created by thousands of feet and equipment converging on park grounds. In Chicago, because of the enormous amount of people expected and the highprofile-ness of the event, the Obama campaign is reportedly sending the city a check to pay for some or most of the costs. According to the Denver Post, the Obama campaign paid workers to clean up after the event there.

In any case, city parks are getting a lot of exposure through these rallies. If you tune in to the election night activities in Chicago – think of all those city and Park District people making the event possible – to have a city park front and central on one of the biggest election nights in recent memory.

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