Marylanders join in rally, looking for humor and moderation

While analysts will debate for days just how many thousands of people attended the Rally to Restore Sanity and/or Fear on the National Mall on Saturday, if the packed-to-capacity stops on the Washington subway system were any indication, a good number of the attendees were Marylanders.

The rally, staged by comedians and talk show hosts Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert, was announced in September on Sewart's "The Daily Show" as an attempt to provide a forum to the millions of moderates whose voices, he said, were getting drowned out by extremists on both sides of the political spectrum.

Attendees lined up in the hundreds to get Metro tickets at the Glenmont and Greenbelt stations, and crowded the platform at the Silver Spring station in hopes of catching a ride to the Mall.

Silver Spring neighbors Vivienne Patton and Maria O'Connor grabbed two subway seats at midmorning for a 45-minute ride from Glenmont to the Judiciary Square stop.

And though Patton, a school counselor, and O'Connor, a retired federal worker, knew they would not be among their demographic peers when they decided to attend the rally, they wanted to brave the mostly younger crowd anyway in hopes, O'Connor said, of seeing "some common sense."

"I want to see people thinking about their choices," said Patton, 64, who said she has participated in rallies since the Vietnam War era and went to Woodstock. She said she is a moderate, but that she has noticed more extremism lately on the conservative side of the political spectrum, especially among the so-called tea party movement.

"I think they're trying to shove their views down my throat," she said.

Elizabeth Wilson, a 22-year-old restaurant server, rode down to Washington from Hunt Valley on Saturday morning with a few friends. She said she made up her mind to go to the rally when she found out The Roots would be opening the day's events.

Wilson said she has strong views on two or three issues, and appreciated the rally's message of moderation.

"It's good that they're trying to keep the political thing down a little bit, because it's so overwhelming," she said.

But some attendees did view the rally in political terms. Towson resident Evelyn Bradley and David Carl Olson of Baltimore stood in the midst of crowds to the left of the stage on Saturday watching the day's events. Bradley said the rally was evidence of a blurring between cultural and political spheres.

"Entertainment is becoming more political," she said. "You have some very humorless people claiming that they are America."

The rally itself offered more entertainment than a political message, with musicians Yusuf Islam (formerly Cat Stevens) and Ozzy Osbourne playing dueling versions of "Peace Train" and "Crazy Train" and other acts, including Kid Rock and Jeff Tweedy, breaking up skits by Stewart and Colbert.

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