Molly Gray / The Lantern
Washington, D.C. — After traveling for hours to attend the Rally to Restore Sanity and/or Fear, Tobin Strohl, a Dublin, Ohio, resident, couldn’t hear a word said by either Jon Stewart or Stephen Colbert, the two Comedy Central comedians who hosted the rally Saturday in Washington, D.C.
“We got about as close as we could,” Strohl said. “We couldn’t hear at all, but the atmosphere is pretty infectious.”
The Comedy Central duo, accompanied by celebrities such as musician Ozzy Osbourne and actor Sam Waterston, held the rally on the National Mall. The crowd filled the mall and the streets and monuments surrounding it, drowning out the noise amplified from the stage, which was in front of the Capitol Building.
Strohl and his family set up camp just in front of the Washington Monument about a mile away from the stage.
“There has to be about five times as many people here as fit in the Horseshoe,” Strohl said. “It’s simply amazing.”
News station CBS Corp. estimated that 215,000 people attended the rally.
Not being able to hear the rally didn’t diminish the experience for Strohl, who attributed the large turnout to Stewart, saying he inspired everyday people to become more aware of politics.
“The radical extremes have taken over the media,” said Strohl, who made the trip to Washington, D.C., for the rally with his wife, Samantha, an alumna of Ohio State. “Stewart really struck a nerve in people who might not have had the time to be politically active before. We want to be politically active but we have dinner to put on the table.”
The Strohls brought their two sons, Jeremy and Samuel, along with them on the trip.
“It was quite the trip. We hopped on the Metro from our hotel, and it took us about an hour to get here with the strollers and chairs, but it has been well worth it,” Samantha said.
Tyler and Meghan Brooks, much closer to the action, had to work their way out of the crowd. The couple took a seven-hour road trip from Columbus to D.C. for the rally.
“It was hard to get in, you had to push, but it was really great,” Tyler said. “We can’t believe how many people are here.”
As they exited the rally, the Brookses said they saw lots of people with signs and costumes mocking the Tea Party and Fox News Channel, popular targets of Stewart and Colbert’s satire.
Michael Trollan stood in the mall near Seventh Avenue holding up his MacBook Air with the words, “Fox News says there are 100 people here.”
Trollan said his sign was an effort to mock Sean Hannity, a host on Fox, who reportedly used old footage to make a Tea Party rally in November seem larger than it actually was.
His only complaint: not being able to hear.
“I’ll have to go and listen to it on the Internet somewhere because all I could hear was the massive crowd,” Trollan said.
Other signs at the rally paid tribute to Colbert’s notion that Americans should be afraid of the state of their country’s political system.
Christoph Schwaiger, a native of France, came to the rally as a part of a four-month trip throughout the United States. He and a friend, Ian Kellett of Montana, held signs that read “(totally) scared” and “you can’t spell COURAGE without RAGE.”