People marching in the rain with Boycott Wendy's signs

Photo report here

The march — and the storm — approaches…

In what would become an unforgettable march celebrating the end of the week-long fast by students and alumni at The Ohio State University — and the start of a rolling fast of students across the Fair Food Nation in support of the Wendy’s Boycott — nearly 500 farmworkers and their consumer allies braved cold winds and a soaking rainstorm to march three miles through the streets of Columbus this past Sunday in pursuit of justice for the workers who pick Wendy’s fruits and vegetables.

As the marchers gathered at Goodale Park for the opening rally and chose the signs and banners they would carry for the day, some small, and some very tall, the weather — long predicted to be absolutely miserable — gave fleeting signs of hope that the worst might just hold off. But it wasn’t long before marchers began prudently battening down the hatches for what was clearly going to be a rough patch ahead. Several speakers and artists — some new to the Campaign for Fair Food, like Columbus City Councilwoman Elizabeth Brown, who welcomed workers from Immokalee to the city and shared her own hopes that Columbus’ hometown fast-food company would soon join the growing Fair Food Program and some who have been with the Campaign since the beginning, like our very own poet laureate of the Fair Food Movement, Olmeca.

The heavens open and the deluge begins…

The skies opened up just as the marchers left the park. But while the initial shock of the downpour was indeed rough on many of the participants’ spirits (there’s no sugarcoating the effect of those first few soaking, sloshing steps). The marchers survived Mother Nature’s first salvo and gradually realized that they couldn’t, in fact, be any more drenched than they already were.  Slowly but surely, with that oddly comforting thought in mind, their steps quickened, their voices grew stronger, and just like that one of the most memorable marches in the nearly two-decade long annals of the Campaign for Fair Food was off!

The rain goes away!…

And soon enough, the marchers were rewarded for their extraordinary good spirits with a break in the weather, an end to the rain, and even a bit of sun, raising their collective energy even higher. The marchers’ infectious spirits attracted the attention of hundreds of bystanders as the residents of Columbus gradually made their own way back into the street. Finally, the march neared the end of its 3-mile route, first with a stop at a downtown Wendy’s for a quick protest which, despite its dominating size swallowing up the street in front of the store managed to draw warm smiles of support from those living in apartments above the restaurant.

The sun comes out, and the torch is passed…

And on its final turn, the march made its way onto the OSU campus where, as if on cue as the marchers wound through campus to the location for the final rally on a spacious central green…… the sun broke out in earnest from behind the clouds and the 19 courageous student and alumni fasters from OSU prepared to break bread together for the first time in seven long days. It was the perfect ceremony, dignified filled with anticipation and final moments of reflection.