We at the Arthritis Foundation wanted to draw attention to the fact that Kids Get Arthritis, Too by having a picnic on the Capitol lawn in Washington. Hundreds of kids and young adults affected by the over 100 arthritis-related diseases such as juvenile rheumatoid arthritis, lupus, and scleroderma had invited their members of Congress to come out and share a PB&J sandwich with them.
Even before 9/11, permits from the Capitol police were required and substantial preparation was needed. On the forms we indicated, we wanted all 50 flags with picnic umbrellas and chairs, 2000 PB&J sandwiches, and lots of water. In addition, port-a-pots and ramps were required.
We were granted the permit but with several stipulations, helium balloons had to be filled prior to arrival and all equipment and supplies would be inspected prior to placement by police and canine assistants.
Finally, we were told emphatically that “no clowns were allowed on the Capitol grounds.” We complied, of course, but to this day I must say, I can’t figure out how they keep getting into the building!