The President flew in yesterday afternoon for a fundraiser at the South End's Cyclorama. Later in the evening he headed to Brookline for a fundraising dinner at a private home, before returning to Washington. The two events together were estimated by some to be worth more than $2 million for the President's re-election campaign.
When "no parking" signs went up around the area yesterday, many of us who live here thought that Seth MacFarlane might be shooting some retakes for "Ted," the Mark Wahlberg movie that has been filming all over Boston for the past few weeks. The film crew was set up on Chandler Street last week, and I read on the South End Patch that they filmed Monday on Columbus Avenue.
However, while "Ted" might have enlisted the help of a few Boston police officers, the Obama event sealed off Warren Street, summoned a black Special Ops van, and placed sharp-shooters on the roof of the Boston Ballet building. Onlookers began gathering around police barriers starting at about 2:30 p.m., but it was a long, cold wait, and I'm not sure many people really got to see anything.
I wandered out about 3 p.m., when the event was widely publicized as being scheduled to start, though the White House's official "press guidance" for the day, which listed a presidential landing at 4:45, seems to have been a bit closer to the mark. I waited along Tremont Street for a while and might have gone back home, but I ran into a friend, and together we had enough curiosity to propel us up Clarendon Street. There we saw what looked like a likely entrance being readied for the President: a white tent at the back of the Cyclorama crawling with men who looked like Secret Service.
We staked out a good spot for watching but, after about 30 minutes, security officials cleared the area, and we ended up on Berkeley Street. Our new location wasn't nearly as good a vantage point, though we did have access to a fellow resident who periodically read tweets out loud from a source who claimed to know when Obama was getting in a limo, when he was in the air, and so on. Meanwhile, four or five large Family Radio trucks bearing the message that the world will end on May 21 began circling the block, and a crowd of immigration-reform protesters gathered outside the Berkeley Community Gardens chanting slogans like, "Hey, Obama, don't deport my mama." At this point, the wait started to seem pointless. Still, after investing more than an hour, it wasn't easy to throw in the towel, even though it had gotten cold, drizzly, and misty. We could smell the salt in the air, which was nice, but it felt more like March than May.
Finally, when security officials parked a Boston Public Works truck right on the intersection between Warren and Dartmouth, apparently to block would-be lunatics from driving through the barricades, our view was completely obstructed, and both my friend and I ran out of steam for the adventure.
I walked in my front door about around 10 to 5, which I think is about the time I later read that Obama arrived. However, it doesn't really sound like the crowd got to see much, so I don't feel too bitter. It did take a little while to warm up, but at least I wasn't dining under a tent in the rain, like Obama and his well-heeled hosts were scheduled to do. Or that is what a radio report told me as I started making a batch of vegetarian chili and looked forward to getting under an afghan for the rest of the night.