One of the advantages of showing up so early is that I got to park nearby. About 30 or so people were already there with hand-made placards, Gadsden Flags or star-spangled doggie sweaters for the pooches that were accompanying them. A few people were also there to circulate petitions and pass out campaign literature for the upcoming Senate race (although I reside in a different district). Earlier in the week, reports were circulating that counterdemonstrators were planning to infiltrate the Tea Parties and hold up racist or outlandish signs for the media to record. That seemed to be the case with one individual who was holding up a large sign claiming the moon landings were faked by NASA, although he was subsequently flanked by people with hand-made brightly colored arrows saying 'FAKE' that were pointing Mr. Mooninite.
It's also worth noting that the Tea Party protest took place directly in front of a Post Office, so as the crowd was growing, one of the postal workers had to wade into it with a ginormous cart to empty out all of the mailboxes [and lived to tell the tale, since to hear CNN and the Southern Poverty Law Center tell it, every last Tea Party protester hates all things from the government and will lash out violently at them with no provocation- NANESB!]. There was also a steady stream of vehicles passing by the drive-up mailboxes, many no doubt dropping off their tax forms by the midnight deadline.
When I first showed up, the crowd was predominantly old or middle-aged, which sort of made sense as this was just getting underway during what would've been a normal workday for alot of people. I tried doing the informal headcount deal-ey, but #1) I suck at that to begin with and #2) I'm easily distracted. Seriously, every time I'd try and count everybody present, my attention would wander and when I'd try and start over, there'd be a knot of people waving signs and placards where there was empty space moments ago. Alot of these newer arrivals were much younger and a few had school-age children with them. My best estimate was that it was in the 'dozens' when I showed up and well into the 'hundreds' by the time I left, with more people making their way in as I was departing. A couple of people showed up selling t-shirts, although I couldn't quite see what they said.
As for imagery, I didn't see anything as offensive as
Personally, I didn't get to do much more other than mill through the crowd [I would've taken some snapshots, but the batteries in the Fenway-cam were deader then Uday and Qusay Hussein's Iraqi Parliament campaign- NANESB!] and try to figure out where one nearby congressional district ended and the other began with some of the other attendees....it gets even more convoluted when it comes to the state senate.
So after about 40 minutes or so, I had to take my leave in order to be reasonably on-time for work. At that point, more protesters were showing up and waving signs and flags on the other side of the street, which most passers by were enthusiastically honking while driving along. There was something of a police presence, but they kept their distance of about half a block away.....probably because there was nowhere else to park their patrol cars.
I left before any of the scheduled speakers arrived (I'm not even sure who they were), so I couldn't offer any informed commentary on that. There were actually some Tea Parties scheduled in towns alot closer to where I live, but they were scheduled to start when I was supposed to be at work.
Overall, I'd say it left me with a good first impression, but that was only after some 40 minutes. Certain snide, hypercondescending TV 'personalities' and bloggers would leave their dwindling viewer/readership with the impression that the Tea party was comprised exclusively of racists, birthers and Westboro Baptist-caliber fundies. By and large, they struck me as rational people who are concerned about an ever-expanding and increasingly tone-deaf and unaccountable Congress and Administration cramming through entitlement program after entitlement program- and correct me if I'm wrong, you 'where-were-these-racist-hypocrites-when-Bush-was-running-up-the-deficit' concern trolls waiting in the wings, but President Obama is on par to triple the Bush-era deficit in one year.
I would also like to take this opportunity to thank Charles Johnson of Little Unseen Footballs.