Hundreds of people brave the early morning cold to wait in line for Barack Obama’s town hall meeting. - Bob Pennell

Supporters flock to speech site

MEDFORD — Enthusiastic Barack Obama supporters waited in line for hours early Saturday in hopes of securing a seat at the Democratic presidential candidate's town hall meeting at Kids Unlimited.

The line wound for about 200 yards from the front door of Kids Unlimited, through the parking lot and down the side of Austin Street.

"We've been waiting since 6 a.m.," said Jeremy Durand, a 9-year-old from Medford who stood in line with his mother, Wendy Durand.

"He is the candidate of change," Jeremy said, his breath puffing white in the cold morning air. "I like the change part. He is a good citizen."

Phoenix resident John Hill missed the one-hour window Thursday when tickets for the event were available. Hill, a violin maker, started waiting at about 6:30 a.m. to see Obama.

"I totally disagree with the amount of corruption in our government," Hill said. "Finally we have the opportunity to elect a real statesman, and that's why I'm here."

A separate line for ticket-holders snaked around the building. Some of them had spent part of the night waiting in line to snag a good seat. Once admitted, some of those without tickets were let inside. Even so, hundreds of people who were in the line didn't get in.

Across Riverside Avenue, about 20 demonstrators gathered, including a lone supporter of independent presidential candidate Ralph Nader. Other demonstrators held up signs opposing abortion.

"Obama supports abortion; we stand for life," said protestor Kevin McMorrow, of Grants Pass.

A trio of high school students showed their support for Republican presidential candidate Ron Paul.

"I don't support what Obama says," said Jake Moran, a South Medford High School student who supports Paul. "He is a great speech maker, but I don't like his ideas about illegal immigration."

Obama supporter Donavon Clark of Medford stood among them gazing dreamily across the street just after shaking hands with Obama, who had greeted supporters gathered outside on Riverside Avenue and Edwards Street before entering Kids Unlimited.

"I was born in 1965, and I can remember when this country was facing serious struggles," said Clark, who moved to Medford from Pass Christian, Miss., in September 2005 after Hurricane Katrina hit the Gulf Coast. "We still are, but to see someone with his background so close to becoming president is touching. It's just phenomenal."

Vehicles lined the streets for several blocks from Riverside Avenue to Central Avenue's cluster of car lots. In some cases, a row of vehicles had been ticketed for illegal parking along the length of the street.

Nearby businesses charged $10 for parking.

Vendors sold T-shirts in the Kids Unlimited parking lot to help support Obama's campaign. Some of the vendors had traveled from Los Angeles and planned to continue to follow Obama.

A coffee stand in the parking lot lost some business because there were no restroom facilities available on site.

"I had to walk to the store next door and pay $1 to use the restroom," Hill said.

Reach reporter Paris Achen at 541-776-4459 or

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