Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Presidential Campaign Trail October 2014 - February 2016

While I happen to live in a state that presidential candidates don't typically visit, I am lucky enough to be close to the first in the nation state of New Hampshire, which provides ample opportunity to meet the candidates. Here is my journey over the the span of roughly two and a half years of how I met eight of the front runners.

October/November 2014:

Governor Chris Christie in CT

Over the span of a few weeks in the fall of 2014, New Jersey Governor, Chris Christie was traveling all over the country to stump for various Republican Gubernatorial candidates. He stopped in Connecticut twice to support Tom Foley, who who eventually go on to lose the race.

At the time, Christie was considered a front runner for the presidency, but since then, he has faced some issues such as, "Bridge-gate", which nearly torpedoed his chances. 

Nonetheless, Christie was awesome in Connecticut, and signed a ton of items for me, and took at picture at one of the two stops I went to.

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October 2015: 

Donald Trump

Love him or hate him, Donald Trump's ascension has been one of the biggest news stories of 2015, and beginning of 2016. On a long weekend in October, I went up to Atkinson, NH to a town hall event that Trump was holding. There were A LOT of people at this event, and I was able to experience the beginnings of what New England Collectors have been calling the, "Trump Pit". Donald signed two items for me, one while he was walking away from the stage, and another outside of the event on the way to his car. This was an awesome kick off to meeting candidates in 2015.


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You may remember from my previous Trump post that I was caught, "face-palming", in this below tweet(in the lower left if you zoom in).

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December 2015: 

Senator Rand Paul

Being my favorite candidate, I was really excited to meet Senator Paul. I saw him at a diner meet and greet in Nashua, NH where he talked to many supporters, and I was also able to attend his town hall meeting later in the day a few towns away.

Rand went throughout the diner meeting with everyone, taking pictures, and signing autographs. It was an awesome, relaxed event.


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Senator Lindsey Graham with Senator John McCain

I went to New Hampshire again in mid December for a day full of events. First, I went to a Lindsey Graham town hall meeting at a library, mostly because Senator John McCain, the 2008 GOP nominee for president was stumping for him. Both guys were super nice. I got a couple of pictures signed by both, and both were happy to take pictures with me.

One of my favorite memories from the campaign trail is when I was taking a selfie with John McCain. I was holding the phone up, getting ready to take the photo, and he went to press the on-screen photo button. When he saw that I clicked the button on the side he said, "Oh, you guys don't do that anymore." Mind you, John McCain is almost eighty years old, so this was pretty funny.


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They both really liked this photo:


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Governor Jeb Bush

Later that day, Jeb Bush held a town hall meeting in Exeter, NH that I was also able to make it to. There were actually a good number of collectors at this one, and Jeb took his time after the event and signed up a storm/took pictures.

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As you can see, by the time I got back to him, he changed his pen to a terrible faded black one:


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January 2016:

Senator Bernie Sanders

I went up to UMass Amherst for a Bernie Sanders rally in early January, which was absolutely packed. I wasn't able to get inside, but Bernie gave a speech outside for the overflow crowd before his main event of the afternoon. As he was walking inside, I had the best possible spot to get him to sign my copy of his "Rolling Stone" magazine issue, but he said he had to go. It would have only taken him a second to sign it, but oh well. You can't win them all, I suppose. At the end of the day, it was cool to experience a true grass roots rally.


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Senator Ted Cruz

It just so happened that Ted Cruz was holding a meet and greet at a diner in Southern New Hampshire on Martin Luther King Day, and I had the day off so I decided to head up to the granite State again to meet the junior senator from Texas. It was bitterly cold, and I couldn't stay inside because it was SO packed with literally no room to move around, so I met him as he was getting off of his bus. After he signed for me, and took a picture with myself and what I can remember to be one other person, his aides rushed him inside of the building. It is worth mentioning that at some points that I was there it was snowing. Getting the book signed made it worth the trip though.


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February 2016:

Senator Marco Rubio

Just a few days before the New Hampshire Primary, I had a big day planned because this would represent my last day to partake in the campaign trail for likely at least a few years. The first event of the day was supposed to be a pancake breakfast with Senator Rubio, but the campaign had so much demand that they decided on the eve of the event to change it to a town hall meeting. This didn't matter too much to me even though there were going to be a lot more people there, because I had mostly good experiences on this journey, and most of the candidates were very cordial even with large crowds of people.

When I arrived at the event, there were already a ton of people, but i managed to get a good spot.

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Marco was running a little late, and in the meantime, the organizers of the event announced that cars in the fire lane would be towed. I hadn't parked in the fire lane, but across from it. After about another ten minutes or so, they made another announcement for about 4-5 cars to move, and I was indeed one of them, so i ended up losing my spot.

I got back inside after barely finding a new parking spot, and Marco came on soon after. 
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The speech/question and answer session went maybe a little less than an hour, and then it was time to try and meet him. I had made my way through the crowd a little bit, but I still found myself about 6 or 7 people away from him on all sides.  Eventually, I was able to make it close enough despite the entire crowd pushing, to reach his book over to him, which he glanced up and saw, then signed!

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He continued taking pictures with just about everyone who wanted one, and when I finally got next to him, he took a picture with me and signed an image of his TIME magazine cover, despite his handler telling me that he wasn't signing anything due to time restraints.

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I was satisfied with my morning so far, and I then waited for him to make his way out, during which I was able to add him on one more photo to top off the success I had at this event.

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I had planned to attend another Rubio Town Hall, followed by a John Kasich event, but I was just too exhausted after traveling to this one and getting up to him to go to any more, so I decided to pass up those opportunities.

With that, my journey to meet as many 2016 Presidential candidate front runners as possible is likely over, and it was truly a one of a kind experience that was pretty awesome to take on. I met so many interesting people along the way, and it was worth every minute.

Saturday, December 5, 2015

Top 50 Interactions of 2015 (5th Annual Edition)

As I am writing this, I really can't believe that another year has passed and this is my 5th time writing my annual ranking of my top interactions with athletes and celebrities of the year. The first ranking entry back in 2011 had a top FIVE list, and now I have really slowed down the blog and struggle to narrow the list down to a top 50. I thank you guys so much for the tens of thousands of page views, and while I no longer post every week, I appreciate your continued support.

Here we go.

As in the past few years, I have created a visual of the places I met people in 2015:

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The Travelers Championship(Cromwell) made it back on the list this year after I attended the event for the first time since 2014. 

Here are my countdowns from previous years:



50. Tito Oritz | Former UFC Light Heavyweight Champion | Manchester,CT
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49. Stuart Appleby| PGA Tour | Cromwell,CT

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48. Canaan Smith | Country Artist | Wallingford,CT

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47. Jonas Gray | Former New England Patriots Running Back | Waterford,CT

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46. Tiffany | 80's Pop Star | Uncasville,CT

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45. Ernie Els | 2x PGA Tour Major Champion | Cromwell,CT

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44. Daniel Hamilton | UCONN Basketball, NBA Prospect | Storrs,CT

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43. Tyler Beede | San Francisco Giants Prospect | New Britain, CT

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42. Kyle Crick | San Francisco Giants Prospect | New Britain,CT

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41. Bubba Wallace Jr. | NASCAR Rising Star | Cromwell,CT

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40. Henry Owens | Boston Red Sox Starting Pitcher | Pawtucket,RI

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39. Blake Swihart | Boston Red Sox Catcher | Pawtucket,RI

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38. Ryan Sheckler |Professional Skateboarder | Cromwell,CT

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37. Justin Masterson | Boston Red Sox | Baltimore,MD

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36. Francisco Lindor | Cleveland Indians | Pawtucket,RI

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35. Jerry Remy | Boston Red Sox Announcer/ Former Player | Mashantucket,CT

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34. Brian Cashman | New York Yankees General Manager | Uncasville, CT

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33. John Henry | Boston Red Sox/ Liverpool F.C. Owner | Mashantucket,CT

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32. Troy Brown | New England Patriots Legend | Pawtucket,Rhode Island

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31. Joe Buck | MLB/NFL Announcer | Boston,MA

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30. Jim Calhoun | Naismith Hall of Fame/ Former UCONN Basketball Head Coach | Cromwell,CT

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29. The Swon Brothers | Country Band | Brooklyn,CT

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28. Tim Wakefield | Former Boston Red Sox Pitcher | Cromwell,CT

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27. Geno Auriemma | Naismith HOF/UCONN Women's Basketball Head Coach |Cromwell,CT

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26. Kris Dunn | Providence College Basketball/ NBA Prospect | Providence, RI

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25. Clay Buccholz | Boston Red Sox | New York,NY

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24. Chris Webby | Rap Artist | Torrington,CT

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23. Iliza Shlesinger | Comedian | Mashantucket,CT
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22. Patton Oswalt | Actor/Comedian | New York,NY

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21. LeGarrette Blount | Patriots Running Back | Attleboro,MA

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20. Stephen Gostowski | Patriots Kicker | Cromwell,CT

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19. Malcolm Butler | Patriots Cornerback | Worcester,MA

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18. Xander Bogaerts | Boston Red Sox Shortstop | Mashantucket,CT

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17. Rodney Atkins | Country Star | Woodstock,CT

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16. Bubba Watson | 2x PGA Tour Masters Champion | Cromwell,CT

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15. Mat Lauer | TODAY Show Host | Cromwell,CT

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14. Dennis Eckersley | Baseball Hall of Fame | Boston,MA

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13. Pedro Martinez | Baseball Hall of Fame | Framingham,MA

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12. Ray Allen | NBA Legend | Storrs,CT

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11. Carlton Fisk | Baseball Hall of Fame | Mashantucket,CT

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10. Bridget Moynahan | Actress(Blue Bloods, Coyote Ugly) | Cromwell,CT

I was able to meet Bridget at this year's Travelers Celebrity Pro-Am. She currently stars in one of my favorite shows, "Blue Bloods". This was her second year in a row at the event, but I had to miss it last year. She was awesome to her fans, and I hope she continues attending in future years.

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9. Pat Monahan | Lead Singer of Train | Wallingford,CT

I actually met Pat during December of last year so he missed that countdown, but this was a huge success for me. Train has been a mainstay on pop radio for a very long time now, and I was very excited to meet Pat!

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8. George Lopez | Actor/Comedian | Cromwell,CT

George was one of the most cordial celebrities I have ever met. He actually grabbed more photos from under my ones on top, which is nearly unheard of for someone to do. It was awesome to meet a comedy legend.

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7. Rob Schneider | Actor/Comedian | Manchester,CT

This was perhaps my most fun experience of the year. Rob took me into his green room after his stand up show which was surprising, and a new experience all together. If you watch Adam Sandler movies you know how important Rob is in the world of comedy.

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6. Kevin Bacon | Actor(Footloose,Tremors, The Following) | Hartford,CT

I was able to meet Kevin Bacon on opening night of his show, "Rear Window", in Hartford. He was awesome to the few people waiting, and besides being an awesome actor, he gives A LOT back to the community.

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5. 50 Cent | Rap Icon | Various Locations

Anyone who meets celebrities knows that this was the year to meet 50 Cent. He was touring to promote his Vodka domestically as well as internationally, and he REALLY hooked it up with outside items. "Get Rich or Die Tryin'" was one of the first albums I bought in middle school back in the day, so this was a HUGE one for me.

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4. James Patterson | Author | Hartford,CT

James Patterson has sold an incredible amount of books(~275,000,000) and I have always been a huge fan. Getting a 1st edition ,"Along Came a Spider", signed was pretty awesome because that was the first book in the "Alex Cross" series, as well as the first book by him that I read. He was actually surprised that I had one in such good condition.

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3. Josh Radnor | Actor(How I Met Your Mother, Liberal Arts) | Storrs,CT

Josh starred as Ted Mosby in my favorite television show of all time, and meeting him was not a guarantee, so when I was able to meet him I was very happy. If you haven't seen his movie, "Liberal Arts", which he directed and starred in, I greatly recommend it.

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2. Donald Trump | Mogul/ Presidential Candidate | Atkinson,NH

This was (I believe) my most read post of the year, and it makes sense. Trump is polarizing. Many love him, many hate him, and I am certainly not a fan of his politics, but he was amazingly relevant this year, and it is amazing that I got to meet him. I am still pretty shocked about it even though I had it planned out, and I hope to meet more presidential candidates in the future.

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1. Mike Trout | Best Baseball Player in the World | Boston, MA

I had a little difficulty selecting #1 on this list, however at the end of the day, this experience is the one that made me the most happy, and that I will cherish in the future. Mike is known as one of the best signers at stadiums in baseball, which is remarkable seeing how he is the best player in the game, and everyone wants a piece of him. I was a little lucky to meet him, but very, very happy to.

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