Downtown Sandusky, in Erie County, Ohio, has a quaint little park named Washington Park.
Washington Street runs through it.
(Many more photos to ogle if you click to see the full story.)
I was there about a month and a half ago, as shown by the date under the clock face.
There’s an iconic fountain with a statue of a boy holding up a boot.
During downtown’s heyday, The Red Wagon was a popcorn concession stand.
Washington park is a little over three blocks away from Sandusky’s waterfront. One of my grandfathers used to work on a ferry that went back and forth between the Cedar Point Marina and the downtown dock shown in the background here.
Yesterday, the Sandusky Register announced that John McCain would be the 7th presidential candidate to make a campaign stop in Sandusky’s history. More of the Sandusky Register’s coverage of the event can be found here, here, and here. The Openers section of the Cleveland Plain Dealer also had a short write-up of the event.
I attended the event myself. Unfortunately, I don’t have the skills of a professional photographer (not talented at all, in that regard), and I can’t whip out the story on a short deadline like a professional journalist, either, but I’ll retrace my steps for you anyway. I walked down to Washington Park to the corner of Wayne Street and Washington Street, saw the park cordoned off, and asked local police, who were helping secure the site, how I could enter the park. They pointed me to the next block over. I went to Adams Street and found a long line had already stretched three blocks ahead of me.
The time was about quarter till noon when I arrived downtown. John McCain was due to arrive at 2 p.m. Within a few minutes, Erie County Republican Party chair Matthew Old introduced himself to those waiting in line, and said that in a little while, the line would start to move rapidly once security personnel started processing rally-goers through the checkpoint. (I snapped this pic of Mr. Old after the event, near the gazebo where John McCain had addressed the onlookers.)
The line stood still for quite a long time, about an hour or so. I couldn’t see the back of the line behind me. As near as I could tell, it stretched for blocks behind me.
As you can imagine, with such a long line, some people showed up, looked at the length of the line, decided it wasn’t worth their time, and didn’t stick around. I chatted with a man and a woman who had come from Danbury Township in neighboring Ottawa County to see McCain. Coincidentally, I discovered the Ottawa County man had voted for Romney in the primary, like I did, and had voted for Alan Keyes in the presidential primaries of 1996 and 2000, like I did. How about that? (The two of them are also voting NO on issue 6–you know I had to bring that up.) As I mentioned, the line began to move after about an hour, but it didn’t move fast. Though security was everywhere in evidence, not many security personnel were assigned to processing people through the checkpoint.
I got through the checkpoint at about quarter till 2, and it wasn’t long afterward that security stopped processing people through the checkpoint.
Though a crowd had formed around the gazebo . . .
. . . there was still space available within the park for more people to come in . . .
. . .but, as I mentioned, security stopped processing people through the checkpoint, even though people were lined up for blocks behind where I was. Those left out either turned around and went back home, or they remained beyond the cordoned off area.
Some of those left out also stood across the street, like these McCain supporters off in the distance did.
There were also dozens of Obama supporters (tiny dots in the background beyond the scattered bright blue-uniformed marching band members) who remained across a different street (at the corner of Washington and Wayne, where I had originally approached the park) by their own choice. I could hear faint shouts of “Obama” coming from that direction.
I began to look for a place to situate myself in relation to the gazebo so that I’d be able to witness the action once John McCain arrived.
I finally decided on this vantage point.
After the arrival of the Straight Talk Express bus, I could see the McCain entourage fairly well while they were positioned on the gazebo, but the camera had no zoom lens, so it was difficult to capture them on camera. Others had their cameras raised, too, jockeying around to get a shot.
John McCain was energized. He had Ohio’s 5th District Congressman Bob Latta, U.S. Senator from South Carolina, Lindsay Graham, his daughter, Megan, his wife, Cindy, and Joe the plumber in tow. Joe the plumber was given the opportunity to say a few words for a few seconds. John McCain’s speech was brief but very high-spirited, and well received by the onlookers. After the speech, McCain and some of his entourage headed down a path toward Adams Junior High, which borders Washington Park. At that point, I was within a few yards of John and Cindy McCain.
As you can see, I didn’t get the McCains fully within the frame, as their heads overlap beyond the top of the photo. The McCains aren’t very tall, so to avoid taking a picture of the back of people’s heads, I held the camera aloft, where I really couldn’t get my eyeball behind it to take good aim. Disappointed, I tried again to hold my camera up to get the birdseye view.
Well, as you can see, I came up empty on the second attempt, too. Just before ducking into Adams Junior High to be interviewed by journalists, John McCain turned to face the crowd on the steps in front of the entrance.
Cindy McCain also turned to acknowledge the crowd.
Joe the plumber perched on the top step and peered into the entrance of Adams Junior High.
Then, they ducked into the building, and when they finally emerged, they exited another way, so this was the last glimpse I had of them.
Congressman Bob Latta wasn’t continuing on to Lorain County with the Straight Talk Express, so I conversed with him while he waited for his transportation to Wood County to arrive. Technically, he was in Marcy Kaptur’s district while he was in Sandusky, and he would have been in Betty Sutton’s district had he continued on to the next stop of the Straight Talk Express, but there were a number of people from Norwalk, Bellevue, and other towns in his own Congressional District who’d made the trek to Sandusky to see John McCain, so Latta did get some mileage out of dropping by in Sandusky.
Among the topics Congressman Latta touched upon in speaking with me were the importance of electing John McCain as U.S. President, his support for VP nominee Sarah Palin, the need to take further steps to secure the nation’s borders, his opposition to the bailout bill, his concern over the lack of checks and balances upon the Secretary of the Treasury since the passage of the bailout bill, the unwise borrowing habits of both ordinary Americans and the American government that led to our nation’s current financial mess, the time one must invest in doing a legislator’s job, and the challenges of campaigning for Congress.