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Women's March On Charlotte Draws Tens Of Thousands To Uptown, Exceeding Expectations

Attendance estimates for the Women's March on Charlotte range from 25,000, according to event organizers, to "at least 10,000" according to CMPD, as quoted by the Charlotte Observer.

Either way, the turnout far exceeded organizers' expectations of around 5,000 people for Saturday's march, and the massive crowds forced police to block additional streets in uptown and caused inbound and outbound traffic to jam.

The march began at First Ward Park, where thousands congregated ahead of the scheduled start time of 10 a.m. Many of the demonstrators were from Charlotte, though some came from Concord, Rock Hill, Indian Trail, and other nearby towns.

Shortly after 10 a.m, the grand procession began snaking its way up 7th street before turning onto Church street. Demonstrators sang songs or led chants as construction workers looked on from above.

Many of the participants carried signs critical of the incoming Trump administration, including "Love, not hate, makes America great," "Women's rights are human rights," and "Don't tread on me," written above an illustration of a uterus. Many other demonstrators wore pink, hand knit beanies, called 'pussy hats.'

Students from Park Road Montessori where in attendance with a hand-painted banner that read "Love your neighbor as yourself" adorned with hand prints forming a rainbow above the words.

One woman, Heather Renfroe of Charlotte, arrived with a taxidermy bobcat wearing a pink knit beanie and a sign hung round its neck reading, "I bite back."

"I'm a bit of a collector, and I was having trouble coming up with a sign for this event," Renfroe said, "Then I looked over at Bob in the corner and thought, 'I feel like that's how we can express what we need to say without using any language that we might have to explain to our toddler.'"

Following the march, demonstrators gathered in Romare Bearden Park where Charlotte Mayor Jennifer Roberts addressed the crowd, calling for unity and equality. The crowd responded by chanting Robert's name.

Other elected officials in attendance include U.S. Rep. Alma Adams, D - Charlotte, state Rep. Jeff Jackson, D-Mecklenburg, and Democratic City Council Member Julie Eiselt.

By noon, the crowd began to disperse, but not without leaving traces of the march behind. On Facebook, at least one attendee was attempting to reunite an owner with his or her knitting needles and a pink ball of yarn left abandoned in a tree.

Charlotte's march was held in conjunction with hundreds of other women's marches across the country Saturday. In North Carolina, marches were also planned in Greensboro, Wilmington, Asheville, and Raleigh. As of 4 p.m. Saturday, police had reported no arrests or other problems.

Nick de la Canal is the host of Weekend Edition on Saturday/Sunday mornings, and a reporter covering breaking news, arts and culture, and general assignment stories. His work frequently appears on air and online. Periodically, he tweets: @nickdelacanal