On the Facebook event page for the Rally to Restore Sanity, Comedy Central’s “Million Moderate March” scheduled for October 30 on the National Mall in Washington, DC, more than 94,000 people had already clicked “I’m attending” by Monday morning, September 20. Another 48,000-plus people clicked the “maybe” button.
Fans of Jon Stewart’s “The Daily Show” and Stephen Colbert’s “The Colbert Report,” which will hold a companion March to Keep Fear Alive at the same time and place, would expect nothing less of their heroes. But what does such a crowd mean for the network’s commitment to the National Mall, one of the National Park Service’s most visited properties?
Happily, the National Mall’s management spells out the requirements in its permitting process document, a seven-page set of government forms and instructions that make the event managers’ obligations clear.
Here are some of the salient points:
- A $50.00 application processing fee is the only payment required upfront.
- Applicants are required to post a monetary bond prior to the event “to cover costs incurred when NPS employees are required to work for event monitoring and for any needed site restoration following the event.”
- Applicants are asked on the application if cleanup people will be provided, and how they will be identified.
- The applicants are required to provide a plan for the proposed activity, including a list of all principal speakers, the time schedule, and plans for “the orderly termination and dispersal of the proposed activity which might affect the regular flow of city traffic.”
- Staging, sound, and other equipment is the responsibility of the applicant, as are medical and sanitary facilities.
- The application has the option of supplying its own marshals to perform specific functions during the event.
- Perhaps of greatest interest to attendees, the National Park Service has strict rules about the sale of food and merchandise on the National Mall:
- Only ethnic foods can be sold by the applicant, and only if they are pre-approved by the National Park Service—and if they are integral to the event’s theme.
- Sale of commercially packaged and generic beverages is not allowed.
- Merchandise sales are prohibited. An applicant can display ethnic arts and crafts, but the applicant can’t sell these on the mall.
With all of this being said, the National Park Service reports that the permit application for these events—submitted jointly by political consultancy Minassian Media, Comedy Central, and the Washington-based event management firm Chris Wayne and Associates—is still in the review stage.
A National Park Service official told CBS News, “These three groups have listed on their permit applications that they will generate 25,000 people for their event.” The official said that the decision on the application would most likely be made by September 30.