If you picked up a ticket to see President Obama at the Pavilion during his Charlottesville visit Wednesday, don’t wait until the last minute to head Downtown.
As with previous presidential visits, the Secret Service essentially owns the east end of the Downtown Mall starting Wednesday morning, said interim Charlottesville Fire Marshal Gary Whiting. nTelos Wireless Pavilion spokesman Kirby Hutto said his company will let go of all crowd-control duties. (See this previous post for street closures and other logistical details of the day.)
That means it’s not clear exactly how many people will make it through the gates into the actual event area, because for security reasons, the campaign is staying mum on how many tickets it’s given out and at what point it plans to cap the crowd. Tickets clearly state they do not guarantee holders access; volunteers say it’s first come, first served.
Whiting said the official occupancy load of the Pavilion is 4,997—on the high end of the number of people who could be expected to show up for a busy Fridays After Five celebration, according to Kirby.
Meanwhile, space under the tent will likely be more limited than at a typical event, because a lot of extra staging and risers are being set up.
Point is: if you want in, don’t drag your feet. There will likely be a long line at the gate when officials start letting people in at 1pm—and keep in mind that airport security measures apply.
Meanwhile, the Jefferson Area Tea Party is planning its own “Oust Obama” rally at Lee Park at noon Wednesday—no ticket required. Speakers include frequent Fox News guest Kate Obenshain, former U.S. Senate hopeful Bishop E.W. Jackson, House Delegate Rob Bell, local radio host Rob Schilling of “The Schilling Show,” former local Tea Party chairwoman Carol Thorpe, and more.