Thousands gather during the first of two Naples Tea Parties on April 15, 2009 at the corner of US-41 and Pine Ridge Road in Naples, Florida. Residents gathered to protest government bailouts, excessive national debt and perceived efforts to socialize services and businesses under the federal government.
Insisting the day’s events were not politically motivated, Joanne DiCarlo said, “I don’t care who they are – Democrats or Republicans. We should vote them all out.”
Asked if she protested last year when George W. Bush was president, Joanne DiCarlo stiffened.
“I hate when people ask that because it makes it seem that this about politics,” she said. “It’s not. It’s about not tolerating unresponsive government anymore. Republicans and Democrats alike are rapidly encroaching upon our individual liberties. These enormous, bloated financial programs are placing a crippling burden on America’s future. I think George W. Bush was financially irresponsible, as well, and I called, faxed and e-mailed him to tell him about it, so I don’t want people trying to make it out like it’s all about Obama.”
Standing alongside U.S. 41 as thousands of cars whizzed past, with many drivers honking their support, Michael Joyce of Naples said he felt the need to speak out because he was “scared to death about what’s going on.”
“I’m a retired educator, and not your typical one,” the Long Island, N.Y., native said. “This is the first time I’ve ever demonstrated, and I’m 63, pushing 64. I think the quiet conservatives like myself, the quiet majority, has to start expressing themselves. It’s unfortunate the news media isn’t doing this for us. This (protest) wasn’t even mentioned on the main liberal channels.”
Regardless of their personal motivations, outrage was the unifying factor as hundreds of Southwest Florida residents gathered with signs and tea bags, chanting slogans like “Vote ‘em all out!” After an hour of stump speeches, petition signing and a break to vote for the best signs, the people gathered at Fleischmann Park in Naples took their tea bags and dumped them into a small pool of water poured just for that purpose.