Yes we can... help me be punctual
August 21, 2008 3:38 PM   Subscribe

How long, approximately, do you think the Barack Obama rally this Saturday in Springfield, IL will last?

Some friends and I were thinking of driving down to Springfield from Chicago to see the rally, but I have to be back in Chicago by 7:30 to see a show. Google trip planner estimates a 3 and a half hour drive to Springfield. The only information I can find about the rally on the internet or through the Obama campaign is that the gates will open at 12:00 noon, they don't announce when Obama will take the stage. If any of you have inside info or have been to a similar event, I'd appreciate any advice. I have seen the previous questions about Obama rallies and time, but they all seemed to be focussed on the issue of how early one should arrive. I'd like to know when I can expect this specific rally to end, specifically if it will be early enough to make it back to Chicago in time. Thanks so much in advance!
posted by anonymous to Society & Culture (11 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
I'm afraid I don't know, but is there anything that says you have to stay for the entire rally? Why not pick a time by which you have to leave to get back home in time, and leave then? You might not miss much of the excitement.
posted by Beckminster at 3:48 PM on August 21, 2008

My guess based on going to a couple of previous rallies — and taking your times literally (ie. you could leave at 4pm) — is that you would get to see Obama speak. As Beckminster points out you would certainly get a hell of a lot of atmosphere.
posted by game warden to the events rhino at 4:06 PM on August 21, 2008

The only information I can find about the rally on the internet or through the Obama campaign is that the gates will open at 12:00 noon, they don't announce when Obama will take the stage.

I know this isn't a terribly helpful answer, but in my experience, it varies a lot. Obama will almost certainly be the last to speak, and, even though I don't know anything about this rally, I have a strong hunch that it'll be like all the other rallies I've been to, in that you'll have a half-dozen semi-notables speaking beforehand for an undetermined time. He might come out 30 minutes after it starts, or it might drag on and take several hours before he takes the stage.

And "gates at 12" probably doesn't mean it starts at 12, though I suspect they do have a defined start time, published or not. (I can't find the event on "MyBO" at all?) It's worth noting my 'horror story' waiting for the Boston rally—hours past when it was supposed to start and I was still standing in the freezing cold, and the event kept getting pushed back. I ended up wimping out and leaving to stay warm.

However, Saturday is rumored (maybe confirmed, I don't know?) to be where he's announcing his Veep. We can reason that the campaign really wants to hit the 5 o'clock news with it, so they'd be insane to not have Obama speaking by 5, and possibly much sooner. (Unless they want live footage?)

Yes, I know: "MyBO" is an unfortunate acronym. The campaign hasn't realize that, though, so I use the terminology, too.
posted by fogster at 4:14 PM on August 21, 2008

For comparison, I can describe a downtown Minneapolis rally last February. Rally was indoors at Target Center. People were lining up outside in the early morning (even with online reservations). Doors opened at, I think, noon. Obama gave his speech after 3:00.

I gave up on the idea of attending in person, but went home and watched online, and the important part (the candidate speech) went pretty snappy. However, you'll also want to factor in the crowds leaving the rally area and the parking, too. Traffic afterwards could be a big time suck. (Crowd size here was the capacity at Target Center. 18,000 or so?)
posted by gimonca at 4:14 PM on August 21, 2008

Think it through. If he's in full swing by 3:45 and you can feel history being made, are you really going to want to leave? More to the point, are your friends going to be cool with leaving? I think this is an "in for a penny, in for a pound" deal.

I know why he had to have the rally in Springfield. But damn. Why couldn't he have picked Chicago instead?
posted by felix betachat at 4:15 PM on August 21, 2008

I volunteered at an Obama rally about two years ago, and while I can't remember the exact timeline I don't think you'd make it to Chicago in time if you stayed for the whole thing. If you decide to leave early, I'd guess you'd be leaving either during Obama's speech or just before he starts. It would be cutting it very close at least, and even if it ended in time you would have to deal with the terrible traffic as everyone leaves. The traffic is the biggest thing you should remember.
posted by Solon and Thanks at 4:40 PM on August 21, 2008

Latest info: The speech will start around 2.
posted by MsMolly at 4:57 PM on August 21, 2008

I am on the campaign staff. Our staff van is scheduled to get back to Chicago at 7:30. You should be fine.
posted by fancypants at 5:43 PM on August 21, 2008 [1 favorite]

I agree that you could always go and leave early if you have to. Even if you don't see/hear Obama, you'll still get some other speakers and the ambience, etc.... And remember, your chances of seeing Obama speak live if you don't go are a lot lower than if you do go.
posted by papayaninja at 7:25 PM on August 21, 2008

Do questions about attending an Obama rally need to be anonymous?
posted by crossoverman at 2:49 AM on August 22, 2008

I am on the campaign staff. Our staff van is scheduled to get back to Chicago at 7:30.

You could give the OP a ride back, then?
posted by fogster at 6:28 AM on August 22, 2008

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