DNC helps Charlotte realize its potential

Kiersten Wiles | Staff Writer

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I came off the LYNX, Charlotte, N.C.’s light rail system, struggling to move through the crowd of people who supported so many things I didn’t–things like Obamacare, being pro-choice and big government. I was a Republican surrounded by democratic convention fever. I simply wanted to pick up my press pass and get out. I was here for the story, not the president. Soon, those feelings changed.

Coming out of the chaos of Obama-supporters, I looked around at my city. My city, the one I’d called home for 18 years, and honestly still do. The city who’d always seemed to quietly wait in the background of America, ready to pounce on its moment to shine. The Democratic National Convention gave it that moment.

The DNC had turned Charlotte, a city once known for bad sports teams and starting Bank of America, into a larger-than-life metropolis, buzzing with energy. People were all over the streets, buying DNC trinkets from vendors, hoping to remember this moment for Charlotte.

The DNC brought a media frenzy with reporters and cameras every ten yards. Huge news corporations made camp in the city. CNN and MSNBC took the Epicentre, a place I used to visit on nights out, and turned it into their headquarters.  What was once Vida Mexican Kitchen y Cantina is now the CNN Grill. In the courtyard of the Epicentre, Chris Matthews of MSNBC could be seen filming his show, Hardball, with the public watching from less than ten feet away.

Celebrities like Eva Longoria, Jeff Bridges and Perez Hilton also came into the city to show their support for the political party. Many others were rumored to show, including Natalie Portman and Scarlett Johansson. Never has Charlotte seen so many stars in its city at one time, at least not the kind who aren’t behind the wheel of a racecar.

This was something we could all come together for and celebrate–not the reelection of a president, or the arrival of big shot reporters and actors, but the fact that our city was the focal point of the world.  It was getting the attention it deserved. My city found life because of the DNC.

Charlotte has always had the perks of a big city, without the big city feel. We have professional football and basketball games, but you always see someone you know in the stands. There are plenty of skyscrapers downtown, but not more than the eye can see.

Until college, I had lived in the same house my entire life. I’ve seen this city grow. I watched as neighborhoods were constructed, even in a poor housing market. I’ve seen the addition of our light rail system and a new arena where Lady Gaga sang to me two years ago. President Obama was the star there this time around.

Charlotte has been the city of the South with ignored potential. For me, the DNC has taken that potential and run with it. We’re hosting people from around the nation and around the world. If it hadn’t been before, Charlotte has certainly been put on the map. After this, I can’t wait to see what the future holds for my city.