The Student News Site of University of Arizona

The Daily Wildcat

86° Tucson, AZ

The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


Crowd for Obama creates commotion


By noon, it seemed there were more people waiting to attend the memorial service that President Barack Obama will be attending than McKale Center could accommodate. No one is certain how many people will be allowed in to the building, though the arena seats 14,500.

Many people formed a line along Campbell Avenue at around 8 a.m., but were moved by police. A line was then formed from McKale Center heading northbound on Cherry Avenue, wrapping around the corner to Second Street, breaking at every intersection so as to not block the street. It continued northbound down Warren Avenue, turned westbound at First Street and southbound down Mountain Avenue until people nearly reached the Student Union Memorial Center.

Kimberly Gyles, a pre-nursing freshman, had issues with being moved and not knowing where to go. “”I got here at 10:30 a.m. and we were on Campbell, and people started running around. I ended up running around the block three times,”” she said. She sat on the steps near Cherry Avenue Parking Garage. Her friend Carly Hamman, a pre-education freshman, was also with her. “”We’re just waiting so we know if we’re even going to get in.””

Josh Hill, a volunteer working the program, was walking along the line of people that extends from the McKale Center all the way down Cherry Avenue to Speedway Boulevard. “”Right now, we’re saying no backpacks, no food or large items,”” he said. “”We think they’re allowing small handbags, but at this point we’re saying no bags to make it easier.”” He and many other volunteers wearing red “”Together We Thrive”” shirts informed people of what they were not allowed to bring and helped keep crowds off the street. By 2:30 p.m., all red-shirted volunteers were warning people that no small handbags would be allowed after all, though they advised identification was required and a small camera would be permitted into the arena.

As the line of people inched closer to McKale Center, people were more wearied and upset. “”We got moved like three times, nobody knows anything here.”” said Alan Chu, a graduate student seeking a doctorate in rhetoric. “”The first 14,000 are going in, according to what they say, and the rest are going there,”” Chu said, pointing to the Arizona Stadium, where the overflow of people will be seated so they can watch the memorial on large screens.

“”We don’t know when we’re gonna move,”” said freshman Kennara Ramirez, a pre-business major. “”We’ve been here for about 45 minutes in this same spot. And we’re not going to the stadium. If we don’t get into McKale its kind of pointless,”” Ramirez said as she sat on the corner of Cherry Avenue, wearing sunglasses in the sunny 73-degree weather. “”I might as well go home.””

“”Personally, I think it is amazing that they’re even putting this on in just two days. I’m excited. If I get in, I get in. If I don’t, then I go home and watch it on my TV,”” said M’Balia Thomas, a doctoral student in the Secondary Language Acquisition and Teaching program.

John Perrin, who was working as an administrative staff for “”Together We Thrive”” just outside of McKale Center, thinks they will only let about 12,000 people. “”I’m not really sure, there may be a little more seats, since its capacity is at about four (thousand),”” he added.

Due to the memorial service, the Main Library will be closing at 3 p.m. and re-opening tomorrow, Jan. 13, at 7:30 a.m. The Student Recreation Center is also closing at 3 p.m., as well as most restaurants and stores on campus. Regular hours will resume tomorrow, as will classes.

More to Discover
Activate Search