On June 6th, 2020, ReopenNH held a rally (facebook event in case the ReopenNH website changes before this article runs) on the beach at Hampton Beach, NH. The rally page (but not the facebook event page) included a list of local parking lot and restaurant owners that support ReopenNH. The rally organizers encouraged us to support those businesses. In case the rally page gets updated between when I write this article and when you see it, I’ll include links throughout the article to the businesses I patronized and my thoughts on them so that if you find yourself in the area, you can patronize them if you’d like.
While I typed the first draft of this article, New Hampshire news outlets published stories and pictures from the event. WMUR and Seacoast Online published stories. The Union Leader published a picture gallery of pictures taken at Hampton during the day, which includes pictures of the rally. I don’t see myself in any of the pictures or videos. The night before I made my final edits to the document, I found an editorial cartoon mocking the Reopen NH group.
The day before the rally, Governor Sununu modified the restrictions on state ocean beaches. Sitting and other traditional beach activities are now allowed. The ReopenNH organizers decided to hold the rally despite the lifting of restrictions as all of the restrictions Sununu has imposed on the state need to go, not just the ones he lifted the day before the rally.
I drove out to Hampton in the morning. NH-101 was relatively empty. There was traffic, but nothing like what is normal for a warm summer Saturday in the middle of the morning.
Ocean Boulevard is closed to vehicular traffic for this summer thanks to fallout from the Lil Rona Panic. The closing has screwed up traffic around Hampton Beach.
The ReopenNH organizers advised getting to Hampton Beach before 11:30 AM as privately owned lots will fill up and rates go up.
I arrived right at about 11:30 AM and parked in one of the privately owned lots. The lot was easy to get to from NH-101. The staff were friendly. The ticket was good until 1 AM.
The lot was mostly empty when I arrived. Despite Sununu lifting some of his restrictions, the economic damage continues.
I went over to the Sea Ketch for lunch. I sat on the top deck. I had a nice fish sandwich, some decent potato salad, and a very good Mojito. The staff were wearing masks. Hardly any customers wore masks.
I saw some folks planting a Gadsden Flag out in the sand, and some people meeting at the event’s rally point, the beach playground. The featured image for the story is a picture I took from the top deck of the Sea Ketch of the folks out in the sand.
There were, as usual during the summer, several Hampton police officers patrolling the beach area.
I joined the folks over by the playground. They were looking for the protest. I told them I think the folks over by the Gadsden Flag are the actual rally and that I would check. Yes, I was correct. I brought the folks from the playground over to the rally.
On the way out to the sand, I noticed that signs warning beach-goers of the restrictions on activity on the beach had not been taken down.
It was a small group. There was one guy openly carrying a pistol. I did not bring my pistol as I didn’t want sand and salt spray in the gun. There was a woman selling “Live Free Open NH” t-shirts. I chatted with a few different folks about the stupidity of the orders and current events. There were some candidates for public office who are supporters of the ReopenNH group. Some folks from the Young Republicans of Rockingham County were recruiting. We did not keep Leper Length. We shook hands. We did not wear masks. It was wonderful.
I did not have my bandana to cover my face. My earlier reasons for wearing my bandana have changed. When talking with the folks at the rally, I mentioned why I wore it at earlier rallies and why I wasn’t wearing it this time. They agreed with my reasons and commented about not recognizing me despite my being at all of their rallies to date.
The rally was more a social event than a protest.
At some point during the rally, we could hear sirens off in the distance. Fire. There was an electrical fire in a shop along Ocean Boulevard north of us. Multiple fire companies from the area responded. The firemen and police restricted some roads still open to vehicular traffic so the fire engines could get through. This further screwed up traffic in the area.
We had a Black Lives Matter heckler. The heckler, a white woman, yelled “BLACK LIVES MATTER! WHY DON’T YOU PROTEST SOMETHING THAT MATTERS!? LIKE HUMAN RIGHTS!”
We (the rally goers) looked at each other. How can anyone be this stupid? The heckler left. A Hampton police officer walked over to us and said to us, “She doesn’t know anything about the Bill of Rights.” We chatted a bit and he expressed support for us before he left.
A thunderstorm started coming in. The group decided to end the rally earlier than planned and adjourn to Charlie’s Taphouse.
I dropped off some stuff at my car. I walked over to the bar. I was the first to arrive. The bar’s deck was empty. I picked a seat underneath their deck roof just as the clouds opened up. Since I didn’t know how long I’d have to wait, I ordered food and drink for myself. I had a delicious cheeseburger club sandwich, a massive pile of fries, and I had the first of a few excellent Dark n Stormies.
Eventually some of the ReopenNH folks showed up. Most of the group sat together and at times exceeding Sununu’s six person per table limit for outdoor dining. Nothing else happened except for good conversation, eating good food, and drinking.
ReopenNH now takes donations. Once the New Hampshire filing period ends, donations will go towards supporting candidates who support reopening the state. The folks behind ReopenNH are looking to the next election.
If there are more rallies and I am able to attend, I will attend and I will report back.