On Saturday, October 23, I upheld a great American tradition: I attended my first presidential rally! While I’m a huge Hillary Clinton fan, my support was from the comfort of my couch. That changed on the morning of Friday, October 22 when I woke to an email from the campaign informing me of a rally at my alma mater (University of Pennsylvania) the next day. All I had to do was fill out a simple registration form. Easy!
Below are some tips and takeaways from this one-a-kind experience:
- Bring like-minded friends. While you may have friends and family who are voting for the candidate, the experience is amplified when you attend with people who are informed and passionate about the candidate.
- Arrive early. Expect more traffic and increased security. To reduce your stress and to make the experience more enjoyable, arrive early and grab a meal at a local restaurant. We went to one of my favorite Philadelphia restaurants: White Dog Cafe. We sat at the bar, which provided us with the opportunity to chat with our fellow HRC supporters!
- Be a minimalist. Security is tight, and to make it through quickly, don’t bring a lot of items. Outside food/drinks are often prohibited along with large bags, homemade signs, noisemakers, etc… Check the security recommendations before you attend so you can breeze through the line.
- The positive energy is contagious! It’s an incredible experience to be surrounded by passionate, patriotic Americans who are fighting for a better tomorrow! While Hillary Clinton and Tim Kaine didn’t say anything very different from what I’ve heard them say on television, hearing them in person was a more powerful experience. As a school counselor and co-founder of ReigningIt, a story-sharing platform that is creating a #STEM dialogue inclusive of every woman, I feel very passionate about increasing access to STEM opportunities. When Hillary Clinton spoke about her vision for doing just that, I knew that she would champion my vision for a better America. The echo of the microphone, the roar of the crowd, the wave of signs across the crowd magnified the entire experience.
- Protesters attend the events as well. There were a handful of protesters at the rally, but it was nothing too disruptive. Nobody engaged them. I actually felt happy to see them and proud to be in a country where people can voice their dissent in a public forum without fear of retribution!
- Don’t worry about gear. There is no need to scramble for shirts, hats or other attire that highlight your support of the candidate. You can buy hats, button, shirts, and more from vendors who walk up and down the line of people waiting to enter the venue. And, the items are reasonably priced – buttons were 3 for $10 and hats for $10. I was really excited with I saw representatives from the National Education Association (NEA), who handed out free t-shirts to members and VIP wristbands for special seating. I didn’t expect that, and it was great to sit with other educators wearing our matching tee’s!
- Harness the Power of Social Media… I love posting on social media (Twitter is my fav!) since it connects me with a larger community of people who share my interests. I followed the popular campaign hashtags (#StrongerTogether and #ImWithHer) and saw posts from others at the event. I was able to add to this to the online community with my own posts!
- …while putting your phone down. While it’s great to document the experience with videos and photos, it’s also hard to get great shots. Take a few pics, and then put your phone away and savor the experience! Don’t view the candidates and the experience through the screen on your phone; take in the moment and immerse yourself in the experience!