GOP Convention: Security, Long Lines and a Hot Party

Trump Masked Protester - Getty - H 2016
Getty Images

Trump Masked Protester - Getty - H 2016

An estimated 10,000 people waited in line for as many as three hours to attend a kickoff party at the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in Cleveland.

Thus far, the Republican National Convention is all about long lines, massive security and Rock n' Roll.

At Sunday night's kickoff party, an estimated 10,000 people queued up for as long as three hours before getting to the metal detectors. Once there, the typical reactions were complaints about how few of them there were — about four. 

Nearly at every corner, in fact, are teams of security, and several building and areas are off limits to anyone without credentials. Even with the proper badges, waiting in line for several minutes is the norm, even where they are few people ahead of you.

Even at checkpoints a mile or more away from Quicken Loans Arena, where the official proceedings are, Secret Service looked through the viewfinders of every camera and turned on every computer. Then, TSA officials unzipped every zipper on every bag, poring through them far more thoroughly than they do at airports.

This reporter waited for 30 minutes at one checkpoint even though just 10 people were ahead of him.

Beyond TSA and Secret Service, there are members of the U.S. military here, plus 3,000 federal officers and 2,000 out-of-state cops who were brought in to help the Cleveland Police Department, which purchased 10,000 extra sets of plastic handcuffs for this week's convention. Officials cleared 1,000 beds in local jails, preparing for lots of arrests.

As to Sunday's party, though, the complaints were remarkably good-natured — "That's the 40th VIP who cut in front of me!" — said one man with a smile as he watched a parade of people go ahead of him the moment he finally reached the metal detectors.

The party was in and around the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame. Three Dog Night gave the marquee performance and fireworks were shot off from a nearby pier.

"This was the best outdoor party I have ever been to, and I've been to hundreds," said Shawn Steel, the RNC representative for California. "Middle-aged women were dancing to Joy to the World — with their clothes on — thankfully."

The party consisted of multiple venues and plenty of outdoor space. Food and drink was easy to find (the ice cream was especially popular), and when the party ended, no one heard complaining about the long lines they endured. 

And many headed to a nearby beer garden where Lynyrd Skynyrd played until the wee hours of the morning.

On Monday, protesters have promised to peacefully march, and the official program consists of speeches from Duck Dynasty's Willie Robertson, actor Scott Baio, Navy SEAL Marcus Luttrell (subject of the movie, Lone Survivor), soap-opera star Antonio Sabato, Jr. and Melania Trump, wife of presumptive GOP candidate for president, Donald Trump.

While the convention officially started Monday, Sunday's pre-events, beyond the party with Three Dog Night, included a screening of Dinesh D'Souza's Hillary's America and of God's Not Dead 2, which also included a standing-room-only worship service.