Breaking records

A typical day sees 300,000-400,000 visitors to the Expo site, and an attendance of over 500,000 is considered a really busy day. Yesterday, a Saturday (always the busiest day of the week), over one million people visited the Expo.

That’s about the population of San Jose. Only ten cities in the US have a population of over one million.

And these people were contained in a space of a mere 5.28 km2 (though granted not all of them were inside the site at any given time).

Yesterday broke not only the single-day AND total attendance record in all of Expo/World’s Fair history but also, surely, a slew of safety regulations. The government doesn’t give a damn about the latter, of course, because it’s got a magic number to make—70 million—by the end of the month. We had 774,900 today, and as of tonight, we have only 4.6 million more to go.

I worked the PM shift yesterday, a long shift by the end of which I had the groggy, delirious morning-after-an-all-nighter feeling, even though we closed just 45 minutes later than usual. The lines were noticeably longer than usual. Working the outdoor positions, where we do crowd control, was physically and psychologically draining. I spent over two hours not just controlling the flow of people into the pavilion, but also watching for the abundance of line jumpers, which ranged from little children egged on by amoral parents to young guys vaulting over our row of garbage bins to the less nimble elderly claiming they just wanted to look for “their family” inside.

From my perch at the top of the zigzagging line, I had a good view (while it was still light out) of our queuing area. We had security patrolling like a watchdog. When one person tried to sneak into the line, I would walkie-talkie the guard (or run down to catch them myself), but then a couple other people would climb in through another unmanned spot. It was intense. I was on my toes; my heart was racing the whole time. Caught offenders would either grin sheepishly while letting themselves be escorted out, or obnoxiously put up a fight, yelling “Do you have proof that I jumped the line? Show me some proof!!” only to be thrown out minutes later, at my insistence, by a nearby guard.

I felt like I was defending a castle or the citadel in Lord of the Rings, or, as one of my coworkers put it, the Great Wall against the Huns. The awesome thing was that we had Chinese Communist soldiers decked in green military garb helping us guard our Canadian fortress against… their fellow Chinese comrades. Heh heh.

Some photos from the last two days (click on image to scroll through):

[showtime]

Although things might slow down during the work week, we are predicting next weekend’s numbers to be just as—maybe even more—mind-blowing. All the procrastinators have begun to acknowledge the fact that there are only two weeks left of Expo, and that this is really their last chance to be a part of history.

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1 Comment

Filed under world expo 2010

One response to “Breaking records

  1. Fi

    That’s just insane. Good for you for being able to work in this kind of environment – I don’t know what I’d do with a million people! The PLA soldiers is kinda cool/scary. Actually your description of catching queue-jumpers sounds a bit like a computer game.
    Very nicely-taken photos, btw!

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