Club Staffers Back Up President Obama at Acceptance Speech
Who are those smiling folks above? From left to right, Chicago-based Sierra Club staffers Claire Orphan, Emily Rosenwasser, and Colleen Sarna, and Sarna's husband Thom Cmar, backstage at McCormick Place in Chicago, where President Obama gave his acceptance speech late Tuesday night after winning reelection.
Orphan and Rosenwasser are press secretaries with the Club's Beyond Coal campaign and Sarna is a Chicago-based online organizer.
"We just got pulled from the crowd as we were walking into McCormick Place and asked if we wanted to sit onstage behind President Obama when he spoke," Rosenwasser says. "We ended up in the fourth row in back of Obama!" Below, the onstage crowd gets fired up just moments before the president's acceptance speech.
We'll let Rosenwasser describe how the events of the evening unfolded:
We were lucky enough to nab a few tickets to head over to McCormick Place, so our crew of staff, volunteers, donors, and friends headed that way after [Sierra Club Executive Director] Michael Brune and [Sierra Club President] Allison Chin arrived and had a few slices of pizza with us at our office in the Loop.
After we made it through security, Claire, Colleen, Thom and I were crossing over into the main event hall, all wearing our Sierra Club for Obama buttons.
We were taking some photos of the awesome "FORWARD" banners that lined the hall heading into the larger rally area when an Obama advancement team staffer approached us. He let us know that we weren't in any sort of trouble, and asked if we wanted to stand behind Obama during his speech, to which we replied with a resounding YES!
We were led into a room for some tips on backing up Obama, which included:
- No gum chewing
- No taking photos or texting (during the speech)
- Waving flags enthusiastically
- Big smiles
We then took our seats backstage and sat behind that red curtain for 3+ hours! Something important to note back there: we had virtually no cell phone service, there were no screens set up with live results, and Obama staffers weren't filling in the crowd, so we were a little "in the dark" about how the night was unfolding. But we were encouraged every time we heard a loud outburst of screams from the crowd.
As Communications and Online Organizing staffers, it was strange to be out of the loop with no cell service or Tweets to read on election night! But we were so thrilled about the chance to stand on stage on such an important night that we figured we could get caught up once we got home and enjoy the moment while we were there. And when Obama mentioned climate change in his acceptance speech, he got a few extra flag waves from our row!
The crowd was diverse, engaging, and excited to have Obama's back.
All photos except top photo by Tracy Yang.