If you go an event and don't post a photo to Instagram, did it even happen? With the Jan. 19 Women's March rapidly approaching, you're probably super eager to get out with your friends and document what will likely be an experience of a lifetime. But do cell phones actually work at the Women's March, considering the overwhelming number of participants the event typically attracts? Read on before you get too excited.
Things like this are hard to call, so it's tough to say whether you can count on your phone to work during the march. But we can make some guesses. Each year, the women's march draws substantial crowds: in 2017, a reported 4 million attended the event, per The Washington Post, and in 2018, estimates have placed the number around 2.5 million. So, with crowds that large, it wouldn't be surprising if your phone service gets a little spotty — back in 2017, tech site CNET reported that the D.C. mobile network was overwhelmed by the number of phones in use (as you may have figured out if you were there).
For what it's worth, march organizers seem to be trying to make things a little better. Rachel O’Leary Carmona, chief operating officer of the Women’s March, told ABC News back in December that planners were trying to boost phone service — but nothing was guaranteed. "Sometimes you still just run into a pocket," she told the news outlet.
Luckily, there are ways you can prepare for this. As Bustle points out, you can use walkie talkies to communicate with your friends. Or, if you can find a good spot, you might be able to connect to an open Wi-Fi next work. If all else fails, at least make sure you've got your friends or an emergency contact's numbers written down, so you have them on hand if your battery runs out.
Whatever you do, be sure to leave any weapons or things that can be construed as weapons, such as pocket knives, mace, and scissors, behind, as they aren't allowed on march grounds. You also want to make sure that you don't bring any illegal drugs — no, not even marijuana. Although it's legal in Washington D.C., the march will be on federal property and national park land, where marijuana is still illegal, per the website. Tell your friends, too. To see the full list of things you can and cannot bring, click here.
Now that that's all squared away, remember the festivities begin early on Jan. 19. At 10 a.m. local time, the day will begin with a public gathering, followed by the march itself at 11 a.m. After the march, there's a rally from 1:30 p.m. to 4 p.m., which will close out the event.
While it's still unclear who the guest speakers of the national 2019 Women's March are (although some sister marches have announced speakers), it seems that there's a lot in store for participants. The theme of this year's march is all about mobilizing the energy that propelled record-breaking amounts of women into office in the midterm elections and multiplying it. The official statement from the Women's March says, "The #WomensWave is coming, and we’re sweeping the world forward with us." It continues:
The 2017 Women’s March inspired hundreds of women to run, millions more to vote, and dozens to win elected office. The 2019 Women’s March marks two years of resistance to the Trump presidency, two years of training new activists, and two years of building power. And this time, we're coming back with an agenda.
See what I mean? This march isn't messing around. Here's how to find out whether there's a march in your city, because you won't want to miss it.