A massive turnout at the Women’s March on Washington has forced a change of plans. With the entire planned route filled with hundreds of thousands of protesters, organizers can’t lead a formal march toward the White House.
That’s according to a District of Columbia official, speaking on condition of anonymity because the official isn’t authorized to speak for the march.
The official says that shortly before 1 p.m., people were standing along the entire march route.
While there will be no formal march led from the protest stage near the Capitol, the crowd is still expected to move toward the Ellipse, an area of the National Mall in front of the White House.
The official says there could be more than half a million people on the Mall, but it’s difficult to estimate because low cloud cover is making aerial photographs impossible.
Kevin Donahue, Washington’s deputy mayor for public safety and justice, said on Twitter that organizers of the march are increasing the turnout estimate to half a million.
The march’s National Park Service permit estimated a turnout of 200,000, but the District of Columbia’s homeland security chief had previously predicted turnout would be higher.
Chicago march cancelled due big turnout
So many people have turned out for the Women’s March in Chicago that organizers have cancelled their plans to march through the city’s downtown.
Instead, they’ll extend the ongoing rally on the city’s lakefront.
Organizers say far more people than they were initially expecting are at the demonstration in Grant Park along Lake Michigan, and overflow areas are being used.
They say the planned march through downtown Chicago had to be canceled due to public safety concerns, but that the rally has been extended until 12:30 p.m. CT.
Metro numbers for march exceed inauguration’s
There were early signs across Washington that Saturday’s crowds could top those that gathered on Friday to watch President Donald Trump’s inauguration.
Metro subway stations and train cars are full in many locations, while ridership on Friday was well off the numbers from Barack Obama’s first inaugural.
As of 11 a.m. Saturday, 275,000 people had taken trips on the city’s subway system.
On Inauguration Day, 193,000 trips had been taken as of that time, and the rail system opened an hour earlier that day, at 4 a.m.
Saturday’s ridership figures were more than eight times a normal Saturday and busier than most weekdays.
In addition, some 1,800 buses were registered to park in the city. Greyhound reported adding more buses from New York. And a commuter rail system in Washington added five times its normal capacity to help deal with the crowds.