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Highs & lows of the convention experience

Charlotte Observer staff reports

Bless our hearts

Charlotteans are friendly and nice, according to scads of reports. Wrote Richard Roeper of the Chicago Sun-Times: “The good people of Charlotte have been exceedingly friendly. I’ve been greeted with smiles and ‘How’s it going?’ at every turn.” Hollywood producer Brent Roske said: “Every question we’ve asked has been answered with a smile. That sounds like a cliche. But it has blown me away. People smile in Los Angeles, as long as they’re in front of a camera.”

They protected, served and danced



The five “traffic jammin’” deputies from Clayton County, Ga., reved up the streets with their gesticulations. Their YouTube video fame made them momentary celebrities who signed a few autographs.

Can we drop the N.C. off Schlepperville?

“I love real city cities – New York, Boston, Philly, San Francisco – not these spread-out schlepperville places with no there there.” – Charlotte visitor and New York Post columnist Cindy Adams

The growing umbrella patch

Since last Saturday, 2.22 inches of rain fell, or 31/2 times the normal for the first seven days of September. And yet, umbrellas weren’t allowed inside Time Warner Cable Arena. Delegates and media abandoned their umbrellas by the hundreds for three straight nights. Reclaiming them – not so easy.

Can’t fence-in freedom



The city’s “free-speech zone” sat in an empty, fenced-in lot on Stonewall Street. Most demonstrators ridiculed the notion of corralling the First Amendment. The result: a bizarre display of speakers talking to no one. Meanwhile, crowds picketed on nearby sidewalks.

Home grown vendor slogan

The “Obama Y’all” buttons and T-shirts were hot items all week.

We’re nice – and compact

CBS anchor Scott Pelley says the main difference between Tampa and Charlotte was the cozy factor – everything was within walking distance of his hotel. In Tampa, the CBS crews spent a lot of time in vans being ferried around traffic jams.

Worst celebrity mishap?

Clinton-era Treasury Secretary Robert Rubin was attending a party with financial-industry insiders when he stepped backward into the Ritz-Carlton Hotel pool. According to reports, he climbed out and kept chatting with folks, drenched.

Best sand sculpture line

From McClatchy’s Dave Barry, who wrote: “It bears an uncanny resemblance to what the president would look like if he were made out of sand sculpted by someone who had never actually seen him.”

Best chanting moment

Two young women were teaching protesters chants at Frazier Park before the big march last Sunday. One started with: “They say fight back! We say cut back! They say fight back! We say cut back!” Several protesters appeared puzzled. Then someone said: “You’ve got the chant backwards.”

Sellers without buyers

Legacy Village vendors paid as much as $2,800 to become official retailers, but passersby didn’t find them. Sellers eventually abandoned the lot for College Street, where buyers were plentiful. A host committee official responded by email that no one guaranteed foot traffic or business.

Most memorable speech line

“Ask Osama Bin Laden if he’s better off than he was four years ago.” – Sen. John Kerry

Best, toughest communications job

The woman who was signing a fast-moving Mary J. Blige song Thursday night. Her hands flew like birds as she simultaneously danced and interpreted Blige’s lyrics, including “hateration” and “crunk.”

Media moments

According to uncorrected transcripts from C-SPAN’s video library, Democratic speakers gave their host city more lip service than their GOP counterparts. Republicans talked about Tampa 29 times from the podium over their three days, while Democrats mentioned Charlotte 44 times. --POLITICO

Charlotte meteorologist Brad Panovich of WCNC took to Twitter to comment on the decision to cancel the stadium event: “Thursday night will likely be the best weather of the entire week,” he tweeted. His forecast became a GOP battle cry as the Republicans charged that the DNC couldn’t fill the 75,000-seat stadium. “[The] RNC is hijacking my tweet,” Panovich said. --POLITICO

“I felt like the overall impression of these ‘outsiders’ of Charlotte was like the way Andy Taylor and Helen Crump tried to sell Gomer on Helen’s less than attractive cousin Mary Grace. When Gomer asked if she was pretty they told him, ‘She’s NICE. She’s REAL NICE!!!’” --BuckGuy, CharlotteObserver.com commenter

What they said

The city was so hospitable. Even the police seemed to be enjoying themselves: I saw one on College Street doing ‘The Running Man’ while directing traffic. --Milton Bond, delegate from Milwaukee, Wis.

This is my third convention, and you have the friendliest folks. The logistics of transportation haven’t been great, though – the private companies, that is, not the city buses. --Janet Ganong, also a delegate from Milwaukee

Charlotte just didn’t have enough rooms close to the convention venue for an event this big. We’re staying 25 miles away, and buses have had a hard time delivering us to the venues. --The Rev. Ben Gums, delegate from Jamestown. North Dakota

The high point for us has been the light rail, which works so efficiently. The whole experience has been positive. --Roxanne Steinberg of Los Angeles

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