Students and curious residents walking through Carnahan Quad this afternoon couldn’t help but gawk at the forklifts holding up speakers and the big, black box of a stage Obama will be standing on at 9:30 p.m. This is the biggest thing to hit Columbia since Chase Daniel.
The rally is being set up amphitheater style because of the quad’s strange inclines. The stage is parallel to Tiger Plaza and facing Cornell Hall, where reporters will be, not toward Jesse Hall where the crowd will be. There’s not much room near the stage and spots will be given to yellow ticket holders first- dare I say, they truly have the golden ticket. There are signs for blue ticket holder entrances as well, but no volunteers I talked to seemed to know who will get those.
Everyone else will go through the general admission line, on the other side of the quad near the road block in front of Ellis Library. As of 3:45 p.m., the line stretched from the law school to Lowry Mall.
Audience blockades looked like tiered sections. There is a very small area nearest the stage, which Obama will face. That area is blocked off to the second tier, which goes from the edge of the stage to mid-quad. The quad is on an incline so those in the second tier should be able to see Obama. Mid-quad there is an orange barrier and the land starts to incline toward Jesse Hall. I think most people will be in the third tier that goes from mid-quad to Jesse Hall. The visibility isn’t good, but there will be screens and speakers.
The most interesting person I met while observing the set-up is Jenny Mummert. She came early to stake out her spot but couldn’t figure out where to station herself. When her son was a student at Field Elementary, Ronald Reagan visited to campaign and Reagan actually went to her son’s classroom. Her son is in Iraq now, and she wants a president who will bring him home. She also saw Bill Clinton when he came to town. If Obama wins Tuesday, she will have seen three presidents in Columbia.
As she talked about her drive to campus this morning, Jenny actually teared up at the thought of seeing Obama tonight.
“This is so silly, but when I was driving here, I got tears in my eyes,” she said. “Knowing that he was going to be here in Columbia and that I would have a chance to see him, brought tears to my eyes.”
Reporter Molly Harbarger talked to a group of college women who came in from out of town. They got to Carnahan Quad at 9 a.m. and were recruited to help set up. They were rewarded with yellow tickets.
Most spectators I’ve talked to said they’ll start lining up at 6 p.m. I would advise people not to get their hopes up about seeing Obama in person. The yellow and blue tickets will get priority standing room and most everyone else will be watching Obama on an outdoor screen. To my knowledge, the event isn’t televised so I’d advise showing up just to hear what he has to say.
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