Tuesday, July 04, 2006

What's the 4th, Without a Parade?

Happy birthday, America! Yes, it's Independence Day, and that means hot dogs, bbq, fireworks... and for the political-minded, parades!

My wife, kids and I joined a couple dozen Ali for Delegate volunteers at the Montgomery Village 4th of July parade this morning. We got there early and worked the crowd on both sides of the street before and during the march, handing out campaign literature and stickers, pressing flesh and talking to interested residents.

At one point most of us gathered together to walk with Saqib. We made quite a splash, with Saqib strolling along the parade route with an army of supporters in his wake. He'd stop at just about every knot of bystanders, shake hands, wish everyone a happy 4th and introduce himself and "all his friends."

I had to chuckle. Of course his campaign committee really is named Friends of Saqib Ali. But it raised more than a few eyebrows when he used the line and people glanced at the 20+ of us standing behind him all wearing our Ali t-shirts, smiling, waving and handing out flyers. We had by far the largest contingent of volunteers of any candidate. That turnout was a real testament to Saqib's leadership and his campaign's organization. The Ali volunteers weren't just his family (as one elected official half-joked).

True, his wife, father and sister were there at the parade, but the other 20 or so of us came simply because we believe in his campaign. There were folks like me who have known Saqib for years, and folks who just met him a few weeks ago but were so impressed they just had to get involved. There was a young man who just graduated from high school and a few folks you recently (or not so recently) retired. Really, quite a diverse crowd in many ways, but all of us committed to having Saqib Ali represent our district in the Maryland General Assembly.

Anyway, it was a blast. We're off to see the fireworks tonight (if the thunderstorms hold off), and I'm still wearing my Ali t-shirt. Here's to you America, on your 230th birthday! And here's to Saqib Ali, a real leader for District 39!

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