Tea Partiers: 'Delighted With Turnout'
Organizers of Thursday's Tax Day tea party rally in Southern Pines consider the event a success.
The rally, held in front of the Southern Pines Post Office, was one of hundreds of Tax Day demonstrations across the country. Various media reports estimated that thousands of tea party protesters gathered in major cities like Washington, D.C., Boston and Chicago. Hundreds more converged on the state Capitol in Raleigh.
While the Southern Pines rally lacked the numbers that a lot of the big city demonstrations had, its participants weren't short on spirit.
"I'm delighted with the turnout," Moore TEA Citizens coordinator Dee Park said. "It seems like a lot of people have been here and have been coming around. The cars come by and people are very enthusiastic."
Park said a busload of 50 Moore TEA Citizens drove to Washington to be a part of the rally there.
The participants in Thursday's rally expressed outrage with what they call out-of-control spending, big government and poor leadership in Washington. They waved flags, held signs and encouraged passing cars to honk their horns in support. They frequently chanted in unison or sang patriotic songs. Many were invited to express their opinions on a megaphone.
Some of the signs on display read, "No Child Left a Dime," "Honk for Freedom," "Tax My Breath Away," and "Close Washington, D.C."
Many of the participants were clad in red "Moore TEA" T-shirts or other red, white and blue attire. Some had hats with tea bags attached to them, which have become symbolic of the movement. The modern tea party draws its inspiration from the historic Boston Tea Party of 1773, an iconic political protest by American colonists against the British empire.
Moore TEA Citizens started with just three residents - including Park - about a year ago. She said the group has almost 1,400 members now. Members worked diligently to recruit more at the event.
Paula Hill, a resident of Seven Lakes, said she's "taxed enough already," and she's upset that leaders in Washington "don't listen to the average people."
"I'm retired, and I had to take out a loan to pay my taxes," she said. "Now, that's pretty sad. ... I was here last year, and I'll be here every year until I die, because I love this country."
Debra Smith drove down from Lee County to be a part of the action.
"I just see it as a chance to try to do something to take a stand," she said. "I'm really tired of the way our country's headed, and I'm really concerned about everything. This is the least I can do. I hope maybe I can do more someday."
Elizabeth Kelly, of Southern Pines, said she felt as if "America is losing its freedom."
"I think it's time that we saw a real change," she said, "not the kind of change that the current president is talking about, but a real change back to our grassroots, back to what our Founding Fathers had in mind."
Not everyone who attended agreed with the event's premise, however. A few supporters of President Obama walked through the crowd and attempted to engage the participants in debate. One even spoke on the megaphone, telling the crowd that he didn't agree with what it was doing and accused it of trying to incite a riot.
Some of the tea partiers pointed out to the dissenters that they supported their right to say what they want, though they didn't agree with it.
Park said she was happy that there weren't any incidents and that the rally stayed peaceful.
"There's something in the air," Park said. "People are excited. They're passionate about standing up and speaking out. It's really important to them to be here, and it seems like we have turned a corner."
Contact John Krahnert III by e-mail at jkrahnert@thepilot. com.
More like this story