A group of 275 Ridgefielders joined more than 500,000 people from all over the country  to march for women’s rights in the wake of the presidential inauguration Saturday, Jan. 21.

The protesters left Ridgefield on five buses at 3 a.m. following weeks of organization from Jessica Mancini and Aimee Berger-Girvalo.

“It was probably one of the most amazing experiences I’ve ever been a part of,” said Mancini.

“We had a flood of people that just wanted to be involved.”

They began meeting a week after the election, and had filled three buses after the first two weeks.

On the way to the nation’s capital, Mancini said she already felt history being made.

“At the first rest stop –– three hours in –– literally the parking lots were full of buses,” she said.

“You walked into the rest stop and you couldn’t even get a bathroom. It was the first feeling that this is going to be huge, it’s going to be historic.”  

The march, scheduled to begin at 1:15 p.m. didn’t start until 3:00 p.m. because of the high density of attendees.

“Eventually the cops just opened up previously blocked off roads to allow us to head toward the Washington Monument,” said Tracey Iaizzi of Bethel.

“So yes, there was a march, there absolutely was.”

Different voices

Before marchers began walking, prominent activists and celebrities spoke including, Michael Moore, Ashley Judd, Scarlett Johansson, Alicia Keys, New Jersey Democratic Sen. Cory Booker, Tammy Duckworth, and Cecile Richards.

Mancini said the diversity of speakers was important to her.

“Every speaker that speaks is speaking to someone else,” she said.

“Each individual speaker spoke to the crowd as a whole, but each one talked about experiences that resonated with different groups of people.”

Earlier in the day, public transportation in D.C was beyond capacity, and later the metro was shut down throughout the surrounding protest area, according to Iaizzi.  

“The trains were completely packed, think sardines,” she said. “We had to wait through three trains at Braddock until there was one we could squeeze into.”

After marching, Iaizzi had to stay until 6:30 p.m when the metro stations were opened again before she could leave.

In spite of the transportation hurdles, Iaizzi said she and everyone around her had a positive experience.

“During the entire day, the mood was amazingly calm, respectful, and very positive,” she said, “at no point did we feel the slightest bit concerned for our safety.”

Shared emotions

Iaizzi said that call service in D.C was overloaded most of the day, but during the times she was able to get in touch with family and friends marching in other cities –– Denver, Boston, and New York –– they all had powerful feelings to share.

“Peace, love, and positive inspiration to effect change,” she said.

Mancini and Berger-Gervalo will be hosting a Facebook live talk today at 5:00 p.m. discussing their experience.

It will be a public post on Mancini’s page: https://www.facebook.com/jessicajlmancini

All photos taken by Tracey Iaizzi.