Rosie #593 sits in the middle row of the middle aisle at Craneway Pavillion in Richmond on Saturday morning. She looks around in awe at the gathering crowd of mostly women, ages two months to 100 years. She never has excelled in estimating crowd sizes but is thinking, this just doesn’t look like it will make it. We must have more than 2097 to boast the Guinness World Record set in Ypsilanti, Michigan last fall.
An excited crowds drowns out the rich melodies of 1940 performed by the Swingin’ Blue Stars. Closer to the stage, red and white polka dot heads bob to the music, red socks and boots dance in the aisle.
Volunteers pass out thousands of Kashi protein bars. Rosie #593 puts hers away for later and grimaces as her neighbor bites into a Basil, White Bean and Olive Oil bar. That just doesn’t seem right. She checks her bag, relieved to see her bar is chocolate/cashew.
The music stops and a NPS ranger (sorry, didn’t get her name) takes over the stage. We stand to sing the National Anthem in boisterous harmony. Did we win?
NPS Ranger reads off a list of 38 Rosies, ages 92 to 100, still living. Some of them are in the audience. We applaud with enthusiasm after each name. About six names in, the ranger suggests we hold our applause to the end. But, did we win?
Congressman Mark DeSaulnier takes the stage donned in his Rosie bandana, and taunts his Michigan rival, Debbie Dingell with a video of Rosies claiming “Richmond Rosies Rule” on his iPhone. Supervisor John Gioia wears his bandanna and turns to take a selfie with the most Rosies ever. Mayor Tom Butt joins the stage fun also sporting an official bandanna. There is a slight hint that we may have won.
But we need to wait for the official count. We are instructed to stay within the designated area for the next five minutes. Excitement builds. Did we win?
I am #593 of estimated 2265. We have succeeded. Hoots and hollers fill the room as we parade out for our one mile walk to the Home Front Festival.
For my Michigan friends, sorry. It’s all in fun and I’ll even let you in on something that is not so secret – three of your participants happened to show up for us. Maybe I’ll show up for yours but please don’t tell my California friends.