Rain puts damper on some CarolinaFest activities

by: Dan Tordjman Updated:

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CHARLOTTE, N.C. - CarolinaFest, the welcome kick-off event for the Democratic National Convention, wrapped up 30 minutes ahead of schedule on Monday because of storms.

The Host Committee said according to Charlotte police, about 30,000 people came to Uptown Charlotte to participate in the festivities.

The weather temporarily suspended festivities a little after 4 p.m. Event organizers scrambled to dry equipment and prepare the stage for a much-anticipated performance by James Taylor.

Aisha Dew, the chair of the Mecklenburg County Democratic Party, was on her way to the John Legend concert Monday night at the NASCAR Hall of Fame.

She said she was one of the people running for cover when the skies opened up.

"It was a torrential downpour," Dew said of the first storm, which was followed by a second one about 90 minutes later. "It was very short but it was a very, very heavy downpour."

Taylor did go on stage, as scheduled, around 5:15 p.m., but the performance was cut short just 30 minutes later when another wave of storms passed through.

Some people used whatever they could to cover their heads, from T-shirts to pizza boxes.

Others, who came prepared with umbrellas, stayed outside to hear James Taylor play through the rain.

The rain did provide some temporary relief from extreme heat, which resulted in half a dozen calls to Medic for heat-related illnesses. Only one person was actually transported. Officials said they expected that person to be OK.

Eyewitness News spoke with several families who enjoyed CarolinaFest with their children. The event featured food vendors, President Obama merchandise and many activities for kids.

"I like the face paint," said Zoe McCurry, a young girl who attended CarolinaFest with her mother and sister.

Will Gibson, a father from Davidson, brought his daughter out to witness what many described to Eyewitness News as "history in the making" and a "proud moment" for Charlotte.

"She just loved the train ride in," said Gibson, about his daughter. "Seeing all the news cameras... she's really enjoying it a whole lot."

Monday night, vendors wiped down their merchandise and set up again.

"We're hearty people, street vendors and merchants," a vendor who identified himself as "O" said. "We can deal with it."

Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police wouldn't talk about its security plans over the next few days, but we can probably expect security to tighten up with the vice president arriving tomorrow and the president arriving Wednesday.

Even Monday night, officers checked credentials at one intersection and some roads are barricaded.