2012: PRESIDENT OBAMA SPEAKS IN FORT MYERS
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- Video: President Obama speaks in Fort Myers
- Photos: President Obama visits Fort Myers
- Cell Phone Photos: President Obama's visit to Fort Myers
- Photos: Getting Obama tickets
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- Story: Obama supporters line up for chance to see the president Friday
- Story: Brent Batten: Obama hoping things don't change at Harborside
- Story: Tickets available Wednesday for Obama visit to Fort Myers on Friday
- Special Section: Get complete coverage of President Barack Obama's visit to Fort Myers
Teresa Cowens was first. Then came Desiree Suarez.
Around 8 a.m. Wednesday, the two women plopped down their chairs in a shady spot in front of the Democratic Executive Committee of Collier County's office, near Livingston and Pine Ridge roads. The weather was hot and there was barely a breeze, but the two North Naples women were in it for the long haul.
Cowens and Suarez were among the hundreds of people who flocked to one of three Southwest Florida locations in hopes of getting tickets to see President Barack Obama speak at a public rally Friday at Harborside Event Center in Fort Myers. The two women were some of the first locals to receive tickets shortly after doors opened at noon.
"I wanted to make sure to get tickets," said an excited Suarez. "I didn't get to see him last time."
Campaign officials did not say how many tickets were distributed Wednesday afternoon, but tickets at the Collier County committee office ran out shortly before 2 p.m. Campaign staff directed about two dozen people still waiting to either the Obama for America-Florida office on Golden Gate Parkway or the one in Fort Myers. Those tickets were expected to be gone by the end of the day.
Obama was last in Fort Myers in 2009 to rally support for his $800 billion-plus stimulus package. That event also was held at Harborside Event Center, and officials at the time said the center ran out of the advertised 1,500 tickets in about 25 minutes.
Ashley McCann, a North Naples resident, and her two children were in the middle of the line when the doors opened in Naples.
McCann said she wanted to bring the children so they'd have a chance to experience history. She packed up snacks and water and waited for a couple of hours before the line began moving.
"It's very important," she said. "Despite the fact we live in a Republican area, (for Democrats) to come out and have a voice."
Debbie Wasserman Schultz, a Florida congresswoman and chairwoman of the Democratic National Committee, said in a press call Wednesday the campaign was hoping to rally support across the state.
"We're not ceding any corner of Florida," she said.
Hundreds of people were in front of Obama for America's Fort Myers office, a white, two-story home on Fowler Street. Some folks, like Lehigh Acres residents Cindy Lowe and James Cerby scored their prime spots by getting to the office late Tuesday night.
Lowe said the president needs more support to put policies in place to revitalize Lehigh Acres.
"We're hurting really, really bad," Lowe said.
But hours in the heat has its consequences. At least one person was taken away on a stretcher because of heat exhaustion, and supporters complained about the hot weather.
Those who got their tickets left thrilled and immediately began making plans for Friday. Cowens and Suarez, the first two people in line Naples, exchanged phone numbers and agreed to car pool.
They plan to be in line around 6 a.m. Friday.
Staff writer Jacob Carpenter and NBC-2 reporter Chad Oliver contributed to this report.
Location: Harborside Event Center, 1375 Monroe Street, Fort Myers
Doors open: 9 a.m.
President’s expected speech time: 11:20 a.m.
Parking: Parking will be prohibited on Hendry Street between Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd and Edwards Drive, and on Edwards Drive between Monroe and Hendry streets. Free parking for two hours will be available from Bay Street to Second Street, and Monroe Street to Jackson Street. Parking in the City of Palms parking garage will be restricted to people attending the Harborside event. The cost to park is $4 and people will be required to show their ticket to event.
Directions from Naples: Take Interstate 75 north to Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd. Exit and head west into downtown Fort Myers. At Monroe Street, make a right and go four blocks to Bay Street.
Take U.S. 41 north into downtown Fort Myers. Just before you cross over the Caloosahatchee River take the last exit into downtown on your right. The exit puts you on Main Street. Go two blocks to Monroe Street and make a left.
What to expect: Doors open at 9 a.m. Expect long lines and security checks when entering the event center.