Between teaching morning and evening UAA classes, I spent over three hours at the noon Anchorage, and tea time Wasilla Tea Party events Thursday. I took about 40 pictures and interviewed 63 people. I polled them on actions, views and hopes.
It was a brisk and sunny early afternoon in Anchorage, with most people donning gloves for warmth. In the mid-afternoon semi-sun in Wasilla, it was warmer, and people seemed more comfortable with the air.
Though the chill was gone from the air, at first, I felt the people in Wasilla were more icy. Part of the reason for this, was that the Wasilla event was fairly tightly organized, and speakers from a trailer podium egged them on, one stating the local police were there to keep liberals from disrupting the event.
I counted two of us. In Anchorage there had been almost 20. There were no disruptions whatsoever at either event. The Wasilla cheerleader was using red herring pom-poms.
I counted 225 in Anchorage at 1:30. When I left the Wasilla event at 5:20, I had counted about 500. More people were arriving than leaving when I left Wasilla.
My overall impression was one of frustration, more than of anger from participants. Only a few people refused to talk to me, all middle-aged males. Many conversations ended upbeat and warm.
I had hoped to poll about 90 people between the two events, but only got 42 in Anchorage and 21 in Wasilla. Discussions during and after polling slowed the process.
In Wasilla, I bumped into several friends who I hadn't seen in a long time. From coaching, scouting, shooting and directing the Valley's community band for 13 years, I've made a lot of friends from all across the political spectrum. We had catching up to do whenever I encountered old friends. Kids I've coached honked from the Parks Highway, rolled down their windows and yelled messages from their siblings to me, as they waited for lights to change from red to green.
The demography of the Wasilla crowd was very different from that of last year's tax day rally, as my Part Two report tomorrow may clearly show. I'll go through the polls in a post then. For now, here are some pictures.
Other Alaska Coverage:
Living in Tok - Tea Party
The Alaska Dispatch
The Anchorage Daily News
KTUU TV - intensely dishonest journalism by Jason Lamb