STAMFORD, Conn. — With a crowd of nearly 1,000 people expected at the Women's March on Stamford set for Saturday, organizers are scrambling to move the event to Mill River Park and promise to not turn away any participants.
The event is now set for the downtown Stamford park due to the overwhelming demand and capacity/safety concerns at UConn-Stamford, which was the original location for the rally portion of the event.
It will begin at noon Saturday at the park, with a number of speakers, followed by a march on Washington Boulevard at 1 p.m. to Trump Parc and back. It will be sunny and 50 degrees for the entirely outdoor event.
The Stamford event offers a local alternative to the Women's March on Washington, and is one of hundreds planned across the nation. It is a platform for supporters of equality to rally and march to promote civil rights for everyone without regard for gender, race, sexual orientation, ethnicity, disability, religion or creed, said organizer Lisa Boyne of Fairfield. In part, it is a reaction by people who are not happy with President-Elect Donald Trump.
"After I announced the march in Stamford, I received an email from a woman in Bridgeport who told me that hard times had fallen on her and she could not afford the $150 bus ride to D.C. but felt blessed that she could manage the local train fare to Stamford," Boyne said in a Facebook message.
"Plus, many emailed thanks as job and kids made it impossible to drop everything and get on a bus for 24 hours" to go to the march in D.C., where tens of thousands are expected, Boyne said.
"Locals are so happy to be a part of this movement locally, where we live, where our legislators govern and where the new administrations policies will hit at home."
Boyne is now working with the mayor's office, Stamford Police and park officials to hold the event across the street at Mill River Park at 1050 Washington Blvd.
"Changing the venue has been an overwhelming effort for all involved, and my deepest appreciation goes out to all of those individuals who have done a tremendous job to accommodate such a large group," organizers said in a Facebook post. "We are not turning anyone away and this will be an amazing event. Thank you all for your patience and understanding in this last minute change but we want to include everyone."
Stamford Police will be shutting down the march route, with over 1,000 people expected to take part, she said. Organizers also hired extra security today to cover the crowd, Boyne said. They also need a public address system and porta-potties.
"We are not planning on turning people away," she said. "We will have people outside UConn and different checkpoints in case they show up in the wrong place."
The speakers will include Stamford Mayor David Martin; U.S. Rep. Jim Himes (D-4th District); Lisa Bloom, CNN contributor, author and women's rights attorney; Jill Reis, board member with the National Organization of Women; Gretchen Raffa, director of public policy, advocacy & strategic engagement of Southern New England for Planned Parenthood; Jack Bryant, president of the Stamford chapter of the NAACP; Lisa Worth Huber, chair of the National Peace Academy; and a speaker from the Council on American Islamic Relations.