Sunday, June 30, 2002

Long day's journey for attendees, staffers

By Steve Eder
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        For some, the biggest and busiest day of the Billy Graham mission began before sunrise.

        The day was packed with activities starting with Kidz Gig, aimed at pre-teen children, in the morning, followed by a lengthy evening program that included Christian music stars and the Rev. Billy Graham's sermon. A combined 63,000 people streamed into Paul Brown Stadium for the two sessions.

        Behind-the-scenes snapshots of the mission's longest day:

        • 5 a.m.: Anthony Stubbs, 51, wakes up in his Hamilton home, ready to go.

        “I'm having myself a good ol' time,” Mr. Stubbs says later. It's his third day as an usher and counselor.

        • 6:15 a.m.: Theresa Clark, a 48-year-old event staffer from downtown Cincinnati, arrives for duty. Her job: Check bags and keep an eye on stadium gates. In her third day of work, there have been no security problems.

        “It gets a little boring at times, but it's easy.”

        • 7:45 a.m.: The production staff arrives. Mike Hirschauer, a job steward from Covington, manages teams that move sound and lighting equipment.

        “Everything is running smoothly,” he says.

        • 8 a.m.: Mr. Stubbs is already manning Section 108 as the set-up swings in high gear.

        “They are out here early putting their hearts into it,” he says.

        • 9 a.m.: Parents and kids begin arriving. About 13,000 are there by show time.

        • 10:30 a.m.: Stage crew members Rob Brusman, 38, of Goshen and Jim Plummer, 38, of Woodlawn are hectic as the show begins.

        “During the show, we fly these pieces in and out,” Mr. Brusman says, pointing to the rafters near the stage. “I love it.”

        • 11 a.m.: Psalty the Singing Songbook, played by Ernie Rettino, a 53-year-old grandfather from Coto de Caza, Calif., is center-stage as the main event of the Kidz Gig.

        • Noon: The Kidz Gig ends, but the work is just beginning again for ushers, stage crew and vendors. As people leave the stadium, many visit book stands on the way out, or shirt stands, where official Graham mission golf-style shirts are on sale for $15.

        • 1 p.m.: Deb Case of Oakley is on her way to re-stock souvenir tables until 4:30.

        “It's a real experience,” she says.

        • 1:15 p.m.:

        Mr. Stubbs and his fellow ushers have a three-hour break before they are expected to report for the evening mission.

        • 2:30 p.m.: Brandon Nagle and Drew D'Amico are standing outside Gate D for the evening's Concert for the Next Generation.

        “We were afraid we wouldn't get good seats,” says Mr. Nagle, 22, from Hillsboro. He says they arrived at 11 a.m.

        The concert is free, without reserved seats. Acts including dc Talk and Kirk Franklin have hundreds there hours before the show's scheduled 6:30 p.m. beginning.

        While waiting to go inside, some sing, others play cards. One group plays “Twister” on the pavement.

        • 3:30 p.m.: Ushers and event staff get into position.

        • 4:30 p.m.: Block-long lines are stringing down from the stadium as the gates open.

        • 6:40 p.m.: Kirk Franklin fills the stage with his group, and belts into his version of “Our God Is An Awesome God,” to the delight of 50,000 people.

        • 7:40 p.m.: dc Talk leaves the stage, the crowd still singing along, “Thy word is a lamp unto my feet....”

        • 7:45 p.m.: The crowd quiets as the Rev. Mr. Graham leads them in prayer.

        • 9 p.m.: The altar call concluded, the stadium begins emptying.



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