UNION — They had their tickets and were ready to go, but a weather-related change of venue prevented 98 Union County residents from being there in person when Barack Obama accepted the Democratic Party’s nomination for a second term as president of the United States.
At the beginning of August, Ann Stevens, chair of the Union County Democratic Party, announced that the party had requested 100 tickets from the Democratic National Convention Committee for local residents interested in attending the final night of the convention. Stevens said the tickets would give local residents what might be their only chance to have the “experience of a lifetime” of attending a presidential nominating convention.
By the end of the month, a total of 98 people had taken the party up on its offer. Stevens then obtained the tickets from the Obama campaign’s Organizing for America headquarters in Rock Hill. Plans were for those going to the convention to assemble in the parking lot in front of the old Wal-Mart building to board the two buses rented for the trip to Charlotte. The tickets would then be distributed to those going to the convention as they boarded the buses.
The Union County residents were the among thousands of South Carolinians who had obtained tickets through their county Democratic parties in order to be there in person when Obama and Vice President Joe Biden accepted the nominations for a second term and made their acceptance speeches.
Obama and Biden were renominated and gave their acceptance speeches Thursday night, but they did so without those ticket holders in attendance.
“We’re disappointed, we had to cancel our trip,” Stevens said Thursday morning. “Everyone is so disappointed. We are really, really disappointed.”
Stevens said plans were for the final night of the convention to be held in the open air Bank of America Stadium. The possibility of severe weather, however, forced it to be moved to the enclosed and much smaller Time Warner Cable Arena.
“It’s all because of the weather,” Stevens said. “They are predicting thunderstorms and lightning in Charlotte this afternoon. So for the safety of the people they moved the convention to the arena which is enclosed.
“The arena’s a lot smaller than the stadium,” she said. “It can’t accommodate the thousands of people who’d signed up to attend, so our trip had to be canceled along with all the others.”
The tickets to the convention were free, but participants each had to contribute toward the cost of renting the buses for the trip.
Stevens said she has already spoken to the bus company about reimbursement.
“The only expense was for the bus rental,” Stevens said. “I’ve already spoken to the bus company about it and we will receive a reimbursement for renting the buses.”
Even though they won’t be traveling to the convention, Stevens said residents who were planning to attend should hold on to their tickets.
“We were told by the party to keep our credentials for tonight,” Stevens said. “We were told the president might do a special event before the election for those who didn’t get to attend the convention. This will be to compensate those who signed up to attend but didn’t get to go. The credentials will enable them to participate in this special event.”
Stevens said she’s been told that Obama might address the credential holders via a national conference call that afternoon. She said she had not been informed when the call would be made but she urged everyone who’d planned to attend the convention to participate in the call when it is made.