Apparently I Love Culturally Significant Crowds

So, it turns out I really love big crowded events that massive amounts of people flock to.  I didn’t realize this until I found myself in DC the weekend of October 30th, going to Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert’s Rally to Restore Sanity and/or Fear.  Armed with our posterboard signs, Joya and I walked over to the national mall, where we became so smushed in a crowd of people that we couldn’t even see the jumbo screens set up around the mall, let alone the actual stage where the various performances were taking place.  Sure, we had a few good laughs at some of the wittier signs around us, “Save Jon Stewart, he’s our most important Jew,” and “Mr. Stewart, my mommy says you’re my daddy, but all I want is a hug,” (ok, that was my sign), and “Rally to Restore Santa,” held up by a man dressed as Santa Claus.  But when out of nowhere, Cat Stevens took the stage to perform Peace Train, we were all pretty startled and amazed by what we were about to witness.  First of all, who knew Cat Stevens was allowed back in the country after being put on the no fly list because of his pro-Muslim sentiment?  Second, we never thought we’d hear Cat Stevens sing this song live, in our lifetime.  Third, the performance made us understand what we were doing there.  It didn’t even matter that seconds later, he was interrupted by Ozzy Osbourne playing “Crazy Train,” as part of Colbert’s schtick – we all got the message loud and clear.  Jon Stewart brought this Muslim man on stage, a man who was also known for his song about peace during a time of political and global unrest, quite the antithesis of what Muslims are usually thought of in our country. 

It was pretty damn inspiring.

 I went home to New York the next day, only to meet two of my friends an hour after arriving back in the city to march in the annual Village Halloween Parade.  I hadn’t celebrated Halloween much that weekend, and marching in the parade sounded like a fun idea – I had been to the sidelines to watch the parade and it had been a disaster in years past, but marching sounded less intense for some reason.  And it was.  Waving to groups of Asian tourists in my Dorothy costume was one of those incredibly unique New York experiences that I won’t soon forget.  I plan to go again next year, but in a much less generic costume.
This Sunday, my best friend Drew ran the New York City Marathon.  I went to watch the marathon about half a mile from the finish line so I could see her as she passed.  But in the 45 minutes before she came running by, it was really incredible to watch these thousands of people who were about to complete a race that started 4-5 hours earlier, took them through all five boroughs, and was about to give them the feeling of accomplishment that only incredibly dedicated runners can ever obtain in a lifetime.  I even caught a glimpse of the Chilean miner who had been rescued two weeks earlier after being trapped underground for over two months.  Talk about dedication.  Also, walking through the streets after the marathon, whenever we saw people with the signature “burrito” wrapping signifying their completion of the race, we went up to each person to congratulate them.  Some people were wincing in pain and limping, but it seemed to lift their spirits when we, strangers on the street, stopped to tell them how proud we were.
So apparently I like big crowded events that have widespread meaning and cultural significance.  I guess it’s like having school spirit.  And I’m always going to be a cheerleader for uplifting events that bring all types of people together for one unified cause, from a political rally in the nation’s capital to a silly Halloween parade.

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