Conservative roadshow The Tea Party Express rolled into suburban New Lenox this Labor Day, drawing an expectation-breaking crowd of thousands who decried President Barack Obama, his health care initiative and stimulus spending.
Organizers said they expected 200-400 people to attend the rally, but were blown away when a crowd -- which some claimed was north of 10,000 -- gathered with American flags and signs denouncing big government.
New Lenox's Chief of Police, Bob Sterba, guessed the crowd was likely around 8,000 strong. A precise count was not available.
Sterba said that one event organizer even apologized to him for the massive crowd.
"It's been very organized, this event, and the crowd itself has been just fine," said Sterba, adding that there were no policing problems other than issues with traffic.
Monday's stop was the only Chicago-area stop, and the 20th for the Tea Party Express, a national tour of rallies across the nation. The effort began in California and is traveling east.
"We're taking all the passion and all the emotion of the tea parties earlier this year, and we're channeling them into constructive action on our way to Washington, D.C. for the Taxpayer March on D.C. on the 12th," said Mark Williams, the co-Vice Chair of the Tea Party Express and a conservative talk show host based in California.
"We want to support our government, but we want to support the right things in government. We want less intrusive government, and more freedom," said Eddie Deal, who attended the rally with his wife Carolyn and their two small children, Luke and Joshua.