On Saturday, I participated in the Women’s March Chicago along with my husband, my sister-in-law and 250,000ish of our closest friends.
Chicago has a, perhaps well deserved, reputation for bad Winter weather. Well, someone was looking out for us marchers because Saturday was an absolutely glorious day – sunny and 60+ degrees.
I heard one marcher say, “Today is the one day I’m ok with global warming.”
I’m sure they were kidding and they are NOT ok with global warming but it was nice to have a sunny day.
Our little, mighty band of marchers decided to stay in the city on Friday night to avoid traffic on Saturday morning.
We went down to the hotel’s Starbucks about an hour before the gates were going to open at the rally venue. Already the lobby and Starbucks were packed with pink hatted folks.
By the way, a giant shout-out of thanks to my fabulous daughter-in-law, Lily, for knitting hats for us so that we would be properly adorned.
As we left the hotel, we started to get a better sense of how many people were joining us.
Note that the bus is jam packed. We passed by an “L” stop and folks were just streaming out of the trains on onto the streets.
As recently as the beginning of last week, the Women’s March Chicago organizers were estimating 22,000 marchers based upon the number who had registered on Eventbrite.
On Thursday they sent out a notice that the number had jumped to 50,000 then 60,000.
As we walked down Michigan Avenue heading for the rally, there were people in the streets and on the sidewalk as far as you could see.
We looked at each other and said, “Toto, this is going to be WAY more than 60,000 people.”
The organizers sent out a plea, asking all participants to stay off the grass at Grant Park since they would be responsible for the cost to repair any damage done. (The Cubs had to pay $388,000 for repairs after the World Series Champions rally in November.)
God bless all the cooperative midwesterners. We did stay off the grass.
Even though we arrived at the rally over an hour before its scheduled start time, this was as close as we could get.
The crowd continued to build. Not just an event for women, there were plenty of men showing their support, too. And lots of Cubs fans.
Soon the message started filtering through the crowd:
Rather than the expected 60,000 participants, the crowd is estimated to be 250,000. The park is completely full of people. All of the streets around us – Michigan Avenue, Columbus Drive, Jackson, Van Buren, and more – are shut down to traffic and flooded with people. The entire length of what was to be the march route is packed with sign carrying folks.
This is AMAZING!
Although the organizers said that officially the “march” part of the day was canceled you sure wouldn’t know it by the streams of people who peacefully walked through the closed streets of Chicago for hours.
Every participant had their reason for joining in on this event. While there certainly were a number of signs expressing dissatisfaction with our new President, overall the message of the day was one of strength, respect, sister (and brother) hood, and action.
And love for our country.
Women, men, families, grandparents, babies in strollers, lots and lots of little girls and boys, veterans, people from across the entire spectrum of our citizenry joined together.
The Women’s March Chicago was a beautiful, powerful, happy, uplifting and moving event and I am thrilled to have experienced it.
Why did I march?
Honestly, for me it was less about protesting the election results (although I’m pretty sure you know where I stand on that) and more about what kind of country and world I want for my children and grandchildren.
I marched because I believe in equal rights and respect for all people.
I marched because I realized that I need to be a better citizen; a more responsible and engaged citizen.
I need to be the change I want to see.
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