An enchanted evening at Invesco for area's Obama fans

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By Vicky Gits

The fourth night of the Democratic National Convention in Denver on Aug. 28 turned out to be the Cinderella night that Evergreen area Obama supporters dreamed it would be.

The transportation, the entertainment, the celebrity and camaraderie at Mile High seemed to confirm that America is a place where ordinary people can influence the course of world affairs.

Everyone contacted had rave reviews for the event in general and for the landmark speech by Barack Obama, the first African-American to be nominated as a candidate for president of the United States.

Maybe it would be unfair to call it the political equivalent of a rock concert, but there was definitely a Rocky Mountain high. Speeches by former vice President Al Gore and Susan Eisenhower were interspersed with performances by Stevie Wonder and Michael McDonald.

Katharine Hahn, a local Obama organizer, was not disappointed.

“It was fabulous,” she said. “It was exciting. For us it went very smoothly.

“The restrooms never had a line. There were lines for food around dinner. There were rcycling bins everywhere, including a biodegradable (or compost) bin.”

She said Obama’s speech was different than the acceptance speeches she had heard a hundred times.

“He harkened back to the ‘I Have a Dream’ speech, but not the familiar parts of it,” she said.

Among the more than 80,000 people who turned out for the event were about 20 to 25 Evergreen area volunteers for Obama, said Hahn.

“They were totally organized,” said Steve Sonnen, who took a shuttle bus from Coors Field to Invesco Field before noon. “There were a ton of buses waiting.”

In terms of security, “it was pretty much like going to an airport. It wasn’t intrusive, but you felt like they were doing a good job,” Sonnen said.

“It was a fantastic atmosphere. People were very mellow, and they got more energized as the day went on ee I was expecting it to be far, far worseee . When you get a crowd that big, people are going to worry about being a target. But you were totally comfortable. There was a helicopter circling around all the time.”

Sonnen gave Obama high marks for his speech.

“He just hit all the right notes that really touched everyone there,” Sonnen said.

The only downside was that everyone left at the same time, and it took awhile to get out. “But everyone was in good spiritsee . I don’t want to be too Pollyanna, but I didn’t see many people who weren’t happy about being part of the event.”

Sonnen got home about 1 a.m., after making a walking tour of downtown.

Amy Born, who lives in Evergreen Meadows, said it was “an amazing experience. I’m still trying to process it. I’m still so in awe that we were in there. ee It says a lot about the campaign that so many people like me who are basically nobodies were there. It really says we are ready to change the game.”

Born parked in Englewood and took the light rail. “It was really easy. We went early and got to the gate about 10:30 a.m.

“There was lots of people-watching to do and all the crazy hats to look at. The concessions were open, and people were selling merchandise. You could just walk around the stadium,” Born said.

The only negative was feeling disconnected with the speakers in such a big venue.

“I could feel the energy, but I really want to go back and focus on what everybody said,” Born said.

For many, the event symbolized the premise of equality.

“We are ready to say it no longer matters what gender or race you are,” Born said. “We are evaluating people on their character and their accomplishment.”

She said she’d never been involved in politics before this, but decided she wanted to be an example for her kids.

Cheryl Kirsch, who lives on Divide View Road in Evergreen, said the Obama campaign has cured her disenchantment with politics.

“It was joyous. We were one family. There were Democrats, Republicans and independents. People got credentials who weren’t really (volunteer workers). ee We were a nation and not separate anything,” Kirsch said.

“I had a blast, and at my age (61) I’m not as accommodating as I used to be,” said Kirsch, who said her ancestors fought in the Revolutionary War. “I feel like I came home from a rock concert. I’m a little hoarse because I yelled a lot.

“It was the first time in 40 years I had hope that what my great-great-great-great-great-grandparents founded is going to go forward for my children and grandchildren,” Kirsch said.