What to Bring to the Reason Rally (not an official statement)


The Reason Rally is a week from Saturday.

March 24, 2012.

On the Mall, Washington, D.C.

This is going to be the largest gathering of secular humans in the history of the world!

You need to be there.  You can tell your children and your grandchildren that you were there.  It promises to be the Woodstock of atheism.  And people need to know that there are more than a few of us.

And these are some recommendations on what to bring.  This is in no way an official list from any organization.  These are my own suggestions, grounded in a history of having attended the Godless Americans March on Washington (GAMOW) on November 2, 2002, and lots of other outdoor activities,  and having been director of Camp Quest for its first ten years.

In re GAMOW, see: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Godless_Americans_March_on_Washington

And here are some videos from GAMOW :  http://videos.mitrasites.com/godless-americans-march-on-washington.html


Many of those who attended, including myself, consider this one of the greatest days of their lives.

The Reason Rally is going to be much, much bigger.

But I digress.  No one knows what the weather will be.  It is not known for certain if it will be warm or cold, and if there will be rain, snow, or sunshine.  It is known that you will be outside for a full day in whatever comes, with no place to go for shelter.  Also, there is no guarantee that you can find water and food as easily as you could if you were not on the National Mall telling the world that it is okay to be an atheist.

Here are some Edwinian suggestions on what to bring to the Mall:

Water bottle with water in it.

Food.  Trail mix and protein bars are good choices, but you can bring about anything you like that you are big enough to carry.

Hat, waterproof and with brim if possible.  This is very important.  Sunstroke is not fun.

Waterproof shoes or boots.  You can wear athletic shoes or sandals if you wish if wet feet in wet socks and shoes do not trouble you.  An extra pair of socks might be a good idea.  Of course if we knew for sure there would be no rain, you could wear anything comfortable.  But only god knows for sure what the weather will be, and she ain’t telling.

Full length pants.  Not shorts.  You can wear shorts if you like of course, and you will probably live, but you might not be happy if a winter storm comes or the sun turns your exposed skin into a sunburned horror. The back of your knee is particularly painful if sporting a flaming sunburn.

Long sleeve shirt.  This helps guard against sunburn and is more adaptable to the weather.  You can roll long sleeve shirts up.  You cannot roll short sleeve shirts down.  You might find this rule useful for lots of other things, like flying on commercial airlines.  A long sleeve shirt also provides greater protection against flying insects, if any.  And you can wear a short sleeved shirt with some cute slogan over or under the long sleeved shirt.

Sweater or sweat shirt.

Coat or jacket, preferably a waterproof one. Yes, coat or jacket, regardless of what the weather looks like the day of the Rally.  These things can and do change.  Sometimes rapidly.  Ask my daughter who scheduled an outdoor wedding for a date, and place, on which there had not been rain on that day for over a hundred years.  Well, there was.  And only the greatest burst of competence successfully moved the event under canvas.

A large garbage bag for leaves can be very useful.   It is waterproof.  You can sit on it.  You can also cut a slot for your head on the bottom of the bag, and holes on each side for your arms, and you have an instant, lightweight waterproof parka.   This suggestion alone may have made it worth your time reading this blog.

Light folding chair or ground cloth of some kind, preferably waterproof.  That is unless you really don’t mind being on your feet in an enormous crowd for hours.  Some don’t.  I am not among them.

Sun screen.   You need it whether the sun is shining or is clouded over.

Insect repellant.

Sun glasses.

Camera.  Optional, but recommended.  We can all exchange our photos for years.  I may post some shots from GAMOW.

A backpack in which to carry all of these goodies.

Please do not think me patronizing for telling you these things.  I always make a list of what to take on such adventures and still sometimes neglect to include needed stuff.  I may have left something important off on this one.  Your comments are welcome.

Now, things not to bring:

Weapons of any kind.

Drugs not in prescription bottles.

Sticks.  If you have a sign, which it is hoped you will, you cannot put it on a staff.  It must be hand held.  This is because such sticks can be used as weapons.

Finally, and most importantly, bring some common sense.

And let us have an epic, history making day!


Edwin Kagin © 2012


  1. RW Ahrens says

    I was present (my wife and I) for the event put on by Stewart and Colbert, and it was jammed, practically from one end of the Mall to the other. The news didn’t really do it justice.

    All of your tips above are very good ones!

    I will make another point, though.

    Do NOT expect your phone to work very well. Perhaps the carriers have done a good job of improving their portable, temporary cell technology in the meantime, but I’ll tell you that cell coverage was very, very spotty all day. When you get a few hundred thousand people gathered on the Mall, and most of them have iPhones, coverage goes to hell in that proverbial hand basket at a rapid clip!

    So get in touch with friends and family early, and let them know that you may not be reachable all day.

  2. Emu Sam says

    Washington DC is known for its thunderstorms. The Mall will probably be cleared by police if that happens – it is a safety precaution. In particular, no one will be allowed near any fifty-story tall national monuments capped with aluminum.

    The National Mall is a little less than three miles long and half a mile wide. It is surrounded by shops, restaurants, museums, and government buildings. I personally plan to make the Native American Smithsonian and the Library of Congress my escapes if I need them, with the subway back to the hotel the alternative if both are closed for any reason.

    I don’t know where most of the speakers will be or what subway station is best for arriving at a little before 10 am Eastern. Has that been decided?

    The noise-sensitive should bring earplugs. Plan to be out and about for six to eight hours. Expect the subway to be crowded. Expect to have to walk some distance. Parking near the Mall is limited or non-existent. However, DC public transportation is in the top ten worldwide. You can look up routes online and probably even purchase tickets.

    • Talynknight says

      Another good idea if you’re using the Metro and are in the area a day or two ahead is to get a fare card early. When we went to the Sanity Rally the line to get a fare card was out the door and about half-way through the parking lot. And that was an hour and a half before the rally started. Having your fare card in hand will save you a half hour or so easily if the conditions are similar.

  3. Kem says

    All good suggestions… I have another one, especially if you’re taking a Rally Bus and traveling on plastic. Cash. Not a lot of it, but enough to give tips where appropriate.

  4. Talynknight says

    @2 “I don’t know where most of the speakers will be or what subway station is best for arriving at a little before 10 am Eastern. Has that been decided?”

    That all depends on the crowds. The Smithsonian stop literally empties onto the mall in one direction and about a block away in the other direction. But depending on the numbers using the Metro it might be quicker to get off at Navy Memorial and hoof it the couple extra blocks to the mall. That’s what we did for the Stewart Colbert Rally.

    But that all depends on where you are coming from. We live on the MD side at the end of the Green Line if that helps.

    • deanbuchanan says

      Excellent advice.

      I am excited to see the turnout and the tee shirts!
      I commute down there every day from Maryland. The blue and orange lines have a stop called Federal Triangle. It is the stop just north of Smithsonian. That stop will be as close to the rally area as the Smithsonian station I believe.

      Also, take some time out to go see the Smithsonian Natural History Museum’s Hall of Human Origins. It is quite good.

      (Some people don’t realize that the main private benefactor for the Hall was David Koch, yes one of the Koch brothers…go figure…)

    • says

      I think items like umbrellas and walking support canes are probably okay. But this is not a confirmed thing. Just my guess.

      Consider, however, the image of 10,000 or so people, who are already fairly close to one another, all opening an umbrella at the same time. The umbrella’s span might take up a few more feet of space than if they were not used.

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