The Phoenix: Bearing the burden of the mascot costume

Posted November 17, 2008 by mwilliamson5
Categories: Articles

Miriam Williamson

Although the person underneath the suit must remain anonymous, the student holding the position of the Elon Phoenix has an important role at the university. The Phoenix is known by everyone and represents every aspect of the school.

The Phoenix is at most sporting events to provide support for the teams and engage the crowds.

The Phoenix is at most sporting events to provide support for the teams and engage the crowds.

“The Phoenix represents our school’s history with the fires and our rising from the ashes, our school’s present with a wise and strong symbol of renewal, and it represents our future as we continue to grow and better ourselves as a community,” the Phoenix said.

The Phoenix is present at many sporting events and other special events like freshman orientation and Elonthon. It is there to energize the crowd and give students a sense of pride for the university.

“When you see the bird you think positive things,” said Trip Durham, the associate athletics director for marketing, promotions and home game management. “Whether it’s an experience you had with the mascot at a past even or what you feel about Elon, you should never look at the Phoenix in a negative light.”

With this high standard, the student with the role of the Phoenix has a difficult and important task. He or she must do whatever it takes to represent the school in an appropriate way.

The costume alone presents a heavy burden, literally. According to the Phoenix, the suit and head weigh approximately 100 pounds, with most of the weight concentrated on the person’s shoulders and neck, and in the shoes, which weigh about 10 pounds each.

“There’s about an inch and a half of padding around your body, which is then covered in fur, and then two heavy shoes,” the Phoenix said. “The head is very heavy and it rests on your shoulders. Turning it requires a lot of neck muscles. And it’s really hard to see; it has screens in front of it, and it’s only a small opening.”

With such a heavy suit on, heat is a serious problem whether it is a hot day or not. On hot days, it can feel 20 degrees hotter than it is outside. But even on cold days, it is still hot in the suit.

The day before game days, the Phoenix should drink plenty of water because of the amount of water weight that will be lost. It is also important to stay in shape.

In addition to the physical burden of wearing it, the Phoenix costume can present other difficulties. The current Phoenix learned this the hard way while getting dressed for the first time.

“The former mascot showed me how to put the suit on and then left me in the room to figure it out on my own,” the Phoenix said. “There were fluorescent lights in the room and I hit the light with the head, and it broke. So I was standing there in the dark with the costume half on. It was the most traumatic dressing in the Phoenix ever.”

Now, the current Phoenix always helps trainees for their first few times.

The mascot is also responsible for making any repairs to the costume, and for keeping it in a good condition.

When people see the Phoenix, they have certain expectations. They expect it to be friendly, charismatic and entertaining.

“The mascot must be friendly to all fans from 4 to 84,” Durham said. “The mascot should always represent the school well in the face of the other team. The mascot should never be in a position to break the image of what people see. The bird should never take its jersey off or take its head off. In short, the mascot should always remain in character.”

The current Phoenix does this by treating the job as a performance and a sport.

“It’s just like cheerleading,” the Phoenix said. “In cheerleading it’s as much about the smile on your face as it is about the stunts your doing.”

The mascot is another part of the cheer team, and has the same coach as the cheer team. It even goes with the team to the National Cheerleading Association camp, where the current Phoenix has been a two-time All-American and two-time most improved mascot.

This semester, the Phoenix has added a new element to its performance: a stunt. The Phoenix, in full costume, is lifted up by male cheerleaders, something very uncommon other places.

Other than that stunt though, the Phoenix spends its time getting the crowds at games excited and engaged.

“I’m more of a prankster than a stunt person,” the Phoenix said. “In my mind, the character of the Phoenix is this little kid who likes to mess with everyone and be a prankster and just really have fun with people. It likes to flirt with people, and really likes little kids and likes people’s food. And just generally really likes dancing like a nerd. I might not dance well, but I dance in public.”

Engaging the fans not only makes the game more fun for the crowd, but it also helps the teams. It keeps the fans interested in the game, so they are more supportive of the team.

“I think it’s important that we have the Phoenix to help get the crowd involved,” said Preston Stanley, an Elon cheerleader. “It really helps the cheerleaders.”

Keeping the kids entertained so that their parents can enjoy the game is an important part of the job. But the kids are also one of the biggest benefits to being the Phoenix.

There is a group of about 20 children who attend every football game, and the Phoenix is always sure to pay attention to them.

“At the beginning of the season they’re [children] really wary,” the Phoenix said. “They’ll let mommy hold them and look at the Phoenix, but if I come near them they scream bloody murder. Then later in the season they get more comfortable and they can’t wait for their parents to put them down so they can come hug me.”

The Phoenix poses with a young fan.

The Phoenix poses with a young fan.

The Phoenix said it hopes to make as big of an impression on the kids’ days as they do on its day.

“It [the Phoenix] makes the game so much more enjoyable for the kids,” the Phoenix said. “I just know that when they leave there they saw the Phoenix and the Phoenix gave them a high five, and they can leave the game and it’s a good day.”

But not all fans are friendly to the Phoenix.

The current Phoenix said it has run into problems with people harassing or even physically hurting it.

In its first season as the Phoenix, it was walking near the concessions during a football game, when it heard running feet approaching.

“Usually it’s little kids who want to hug me,” the Phoenix said. “So I didn’t get on the defense or anything.”

But really, it was a group of college-aged guys who had been drinking. They tackled the Phoenix to the ground.

“That isn’t something you do to your team’s mascot,” the Phoenix said.

The Phoenix was mostly unhurt aside from some painful bruises, but the Phoenix learned an important lesson from the incident. Because of the rules associated with the mascot, while in costume the Phoenix is not allowed to be aggressive towards anyone. But now, the Phoenix always has an escort to ensure safety.

Right now the mascot team is building itself up, and people are always invited to try out if it is something they are serious about.

“As the Phoenix you can do whatever you want,” the Phoenix said. “No one knows it’s you, which gives you the freedom to do whatever, to whomever, wherever. The Phoenix doesn’t need a back stage pass, much less a main stage pass. The Phoenix can walk onto the main stage of a show and people will cheer.”


Barack Obama wins election, Elon students celebrate

Posted November 5, 2008 by mwilliamson5
Categories: Articles

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By Miriam Williamson

Elon students join the parade to celebrate Obama's victory.

Elon students join the parade to celebrate Obama

As Barack Obama claimed victory, hundreds of Elon students opted to skip his acceptance speech and instead rallied to show their excitement and pride. The group started small, but as it marched through campus more and more students joined despite the rain.

The crowd grew to hundreds of students and could be heard chanting “Obama,” “Yes, we can,” and “Yes, we did,” from the opposite side of campus.

dsc_1266c“I was walking out to go to Varsity and I heard a commotion in the distance,” freshman Adam Lawson said. “I decided to go see what it was all about and I decided to join up.

The group culminated in a giant circle at Young Commons, joined hands and sang the national anthem. Afterward, everyone rushed to the center.

At the innermost circle of the mob, one student encouraged everyone, regardless of religion or beliefs, to say “The Lord’s Prayer” together. The hundreds of students’ voices could be heard echoing across campus in unison.

“It was like nothing I’d ever seen before,” Lawson said.



Video by Derek Noble

Election day runs smoothly at Alamance precincts

Posted November 5, 2008 by mwilliamson5
Categories: Articles

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With 37 precincts in the county, finding appropriate locations for voters is a concern. Usually though, the relationship between the location and voting officials is amicable.

Students learn about elections firsthand Smith Elementary School

According to Rebecca McGinnis, the curriculum facilitator for Smith Elementary School, the voting didn’t interrupt the usual school day.

“All we really had to do was adjust some of our specialty classes like P.E. and monitor the halls,” McGinnis said. “Other than that though, the kids weren’t affected.”

“But they were well-aware there was going to be an election,” she said. “They knew their behavior was going to be important and they were on their best behavior.”

While Julie Payne, an exceptional children support educator, agreed that things ran very smoothly, she voiced concern for the children’s safety.

“I think it puts the school at a liability,” she said. “Even though it’s a public building, with students and voters coming and going there is a large liability. And it’s a safety issue for voters and students.”

With unfamiliar faces around the school Payne said she thinks it would have been better if the students hadn’t been at school. But since it was unavoidable, the school made as many efforts as possible to maintain high safety standards.

There were extra walkie-talkies in case there was a safety issue. The administration was also moving around the hallways more than usual, with extra people monitoring the hallways and foyers where the voters were waiting.

Even though safety was a concern, Payne said she and the students were glad the school was a voting location.

“They were all very excited about being part of the election,” she said. “It was great for our kids to see it happening. It is history in the making.”

She said that teachers and students will follow up on the election in the morning, looking at newspapers and holding discussions.

Chief Judge at Smith, Gladys Hill, said the school was very helpful to election officials.

“This school has been good,” Hill said. “They’ve done everything they can and tried to make it safe.”

She said they kept the children out of the hallway where the voting was as much as possible, and in turn, whenever there was a line of voters, the election officials ensured that the line went outside rather than into the school’s halls.

Church members share space with Nov. 4 voters

At Holly Hill Baptist, the line was only long in the morning, so it was not much of an inconvenience for the members or employees of the church.

“We do it for every election,” said Shaun Greeson, worship and discipleship pastor for Holly Hill Baptist Church. “It’s not affected us that much. They lined up down the hall one time earlier but it hasn’t affected us otherwise. We just used the back door.”

According to the election officials, the church was very conducive to voting.

“They just pretty much gave us the run of the mill,” said Anne Fortney, an election official.

She said the church is a good location for handicapped voting. Fortney is in charge of curbside voting, which is used to help disabled voters.

Someone who drives the voter can go inside the voting area and get a form for the voter. Then, an election official takes the form to the car and assists the voter.

Democracy heats up at Elon Firehouse

Another precinct was set up in the basement of the Elon Fire House. It in no way hindered the ability of the firefighters to do their job.

“We had to put up tables and they used some of our chairs,” said Billy Andrews, an engineer. “We had to cone off in front of the trucks. If they park in front of them, we’ll just have them towed.”

Other than helping set up, Andrews said the regular routine at fire station was not interrupted. Rather than walking through the station, voters walked outside around to the back entrance.

Dee Atkinson, the chief judge at the firehouse, said the fire fighters were very helpful in setting up the voting area.

“First of all, they worked out their schedule to meet our voting schedule,” Atkinson said. “They provided a clean building and assisted in setting up to accommodate the voting procedure. They also allowed for signs to be posted on department property and moved their trucks to allow more room for parking.


Ch. 1-4 Math Tools

Posted November 3, 2008 by mwilliamson5
Categories: Math Tools

Tags: , , ,

Journalists generally don’t like numbers, but numbers and math are a necessity in reporting. It adds necessary details that if can either make the story more informative or completely destroy the credibility of an article or writer if wrong.


When writing numbers in an article, the reporter has the the responsibility to work out the math for readers – readers should never have to figure it out themselves. The best way to keep it simple and easy for readers to understand is to follow basic style rules regarding when to spell out numbers and how to make them most manageable.

The following numbers should be spelled out: single digit numbers (1-9), fractions less than one, a position or order in ranking for first through ninth, the start of a sentence (unless it is a date) or if an organization spells a number out in its name.

The following numbers should be written in numerals: multiple digit numbers, position or order in ranking higher than tenth (numeral and superscript), if an organization leaves it as a numeral in its name, addresses, dates, highway destinations, percentages, speeds, temperatures, times, weights, with money, ages or slang. The word minus should also be spelled out rather than using a dash or hyphen.
A combination of numerals and words can be used for numbers larger than 1 million. A mixture of numerals and words is also appropriate in a serious of numbers.

It is good to round large numbers in writing if the specific number is unnecessary and it will make it easier for the reader. Some cases, such as deaths, require specific numbers. If a number is rounded, it should be rounded to one decimal point if possible.

Even though numbers add important information to an article, it is important to try to limit how many numbers are in each paragraph. Two or three is about the limit in body paragraphs, and one in the lede.


Percentages are a common in journalism and can help readers have a better sense of the numbers a writer is presenting.

To determine a percentage increase or decrease, the formula is simple: Percentage increase or decrease = (new figure minus old figure) divided by old figure. Then, move the decimal to places to the right. For percent decreases, the number should be negative.

Finding the percentage of a whole can help give readers perspective of how much of an impact something has. In this case, the percentage of a whole= the subgroup divided by the whole group. Again, the decimal point should be moved two places to the right.

A percentage point is complete different from a percent. A change in percentage points would be changing from 8 percent to 9 percent, as opposed to determining that 2 is 25 percent of 8. To determine percentage points, subtraction is all that is needed.

To convert a fraction to a percentage, divide the numerator by the denominator, then move the decimal point two places to the right.

For interest, proper vocabulary is necessary. The principal is the amount of money borrowed, and the money paid in addition to this is the interest. The rate is the percent charged for interest.

To determine simple interest, the interest =  the principal times the rate (as a decimal) times the number of years.

Compounding interest, another type of interest occurs when the interest is added to the original principal, and then the interest is re-calculated the next time from the result of that.
While interest is usually annual, payments on loans are usually monthly. These are compounded, and the formula is more complex, and an advanced or online calculator makes it much easier.


Statistics can be helpful, but must always be used with the understanding that they can be easily manipulated to support what someone wants to present.

There are different types of averages, and the most common is the mean. To find the mean, simply add all of the numbers together, then divide by the number of numbers. To find the median, arrange all of the numbers in ascending or descending order, then find the middle point. If there is an even number of number, find the mean of the two middle numbers. The mode is the number that appears most often in a group of numbers. Which should be used for what articles should be determined on a case-to-case basis so as to present the story most accurately.

Percentiles can also help readers determine where something ranks on a scale. To determine a percentile rank, divide the number of people at or below an individual score by the number of test takers. To determine how many people scored below that level, multiply instead of divide.

To determine how similar a number or group of numbers is to the rest of the numbers, standard deviation can be used.

Probability shows how likely something is to occur. To determine the probability, divide the number of people or things affected by the total number of people or things. To make this a “one out of ##” statement, divide one by the probability.

Federal Statistics

Even with an abundance of information available for reporters, it is impossible to present the figures associated with the federal government if the reporter does not know how to use the information.

Unemployment is a common concern in journalism, but to use the figures associated with it, it is important to know how and why the numbers are calculated. To determine the unemployment rate, divide the number of unemployed people by the labor force (anyone older than 16 who has a job or has looked for one in the past four weeks) then multiply by 100. When using these numbers though, it is important to keep in mind that the Department of Labor is in charge of calculating these numbers from a small sample.

Inflation, a common trend, also appears in reporting often. The Consumer Price Index can be used to present this. To adjust for this trend when comparing current prices to older ones, there is a calculator available on the Bureau of Labor Statistics Web site.

The Gross Domestic Product helps readers determine the value of a nation’s economy’s production.This can be used to determine whether the economy of a country is in good or bad health. This information is collected and computed by the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis.

Trade balance compares the number of imports to the number of exports. With a compilation of information from a variety of sources, the trade balance = the number of exports minus the number of imports. If it is negative, it is considered a trade deficit.

If the University of Tennessee football team has played 11 games this fall, but only won 4, what percentage of games has the team won?

In September 52.2 percent of Elon students looked at weekly. In October, 21.2 percent of students still looked at Juicy weekly. How many percentage points has this changed?

If three copy editors get paid $20 per issue, five designers get paid $25 per issue, and six section editors get paid $30 per issue, what is the average salary for The Pendulum executive staff? Which average should be used?

For the medical school she is applying to, Sarah should be in the in the 94th percentile of test takers to have a chance. If 1,736 students took the test, how many people have to score the same or below her?

The end of the Ron Paul R[evol]ution

Posted October 27, 2008 by mwilliamson5
Categories: Articles

Tags: , , ,

Miriam Williamson

Ron Paul ran for the Republican Party nomination but did not win. He will not be running on a third party ticket.

Ron Paul ran for the Republican Party nomination but did not win. He will not be running on a third party ticket.

When Ron Paul’s name showed up on the list of potential Republican nominees, grassroots efforts sprung up across the nation supporting the Republican Congressman from Texas and his Revolution campaign.

Some of these supporters had been long-term fans of Paul. Others were intrigued by his ideas and platforms.

“He was running on the ticket before I even knew who he was,” said junior Vince Barrett, one of Elon’s Ron Paul supporters. “I guess I kind of got suckered in by the YouTube videos, and I just had immediate interest. I started reading a lot and got really into it.”

Although he was running for the Republican nomination, Paul does not have the same ideas and policies as many of the Republicans in today’s society. Instead, Paul claims to follow the fundamental Republican ideals that go back to the founding of the party.

“I consider myself a Republican,” Barrett said, “but I don’t want to associate with the current administration. The Republican party doesn’t follow the principles they preach.”

Paul is well-known for is his advocacy for limited federal government control. He backs these ideals with his freedom principles, which support the rights of individuals.

Paul’s name on the ballot would have meant a group of grassroots voters confident in their choice.

“He’s the only person I could trust to vote for,” Barrett said. “He says the same thing no matter where he goes. I’m not going to vote for Obama or McCain because they demonstrate a complete lack of understanding for the issues we face.”

Paul’s consistency is a strong factor in many of his supporters’ faith in him.

“I read his articles and saw how consistent he was, even when it wasn’t popular,” said Cameron DeJong, an Elon alum who has run as a Libertarian for county commissioner in eastern N.C. and a Paul supporter since 1996. “ He is truly devoted and much of what he said then and just during the presidential campaign is showing true. He has stuck to his principles, regardless of popularity, and that is to be commended.”

His differences from other Republicans have deemed him a third-party candidate, but Paul refused to run in the 2008 election as a third-party candidate.

“Ron Paul said that if he didn’t win the primary, he wasn’t going to run anymore, so I saw it coming,” Barrett said. “Of course it was disappointing, but I was following it very closely so I knew the indications.”

In February, Paul focused his efforts on his campaign to remain in Congress.

While a third-party candidate winning a U.S. presidential election anytime soon seems unlikely, it may be possible with the proper funding, according to DeJong.

“A third-party candidate who is independently wealthy stands a good chance,” DeJong said. “Otherwise, it would take a celebrity – who in most cases has wealth built in – to become elected.”

Since voters will not see his name on the ticket, Paul supporters may have a tougher time choosing. Many do not trust the current most popular third-party candidate, Bob Barr, especially since it is unlikely for a third-party candidate to win the election. Chuck Baldwin of the Constitution Party has a strong chance, since Paul has endorsed him.

“Most Ron Paul supporters will either vote for Baldwin, Barr or they won’t vote at all,” said DeJong. “Some of those who may not vote will write in Ron Paul’s name.”

Barrett will be writing in a candidate, but it will not be his original favored candidate.

“I’m actually voting for Hunter Bacot,” Barrett said. “He asked for my vote, and I’m giving it to him. I just figured it’d be kind of funny to vote for him.”

Barrett said that although he will not be casting a serious vote for president, he will be supporting Paul’s ideals by voting for libertarians on the rest of the ballot.

Iraqi journalist and sculptor shares insights on Iraqi-American relations

Posted October 24, 2008 by mwilliamson5
Categories: Articles

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Ahmed Abdullah Fadaam speaks to an Elon reporting class about his experiences as an Iraqi journalist during the war.

Ahmed Abdullah Fadaam speaks to an Elon reporting class about his experiences as an Iraqi journalist during the war.

Miriam Williamson

The relationship between Iraqis and Americans has been seriously damaged. Unless the two cultures can develop an understanding of each other, it will likely be impossible to mend.

“If you don’t understand how they think, how can you deal with them?” Iraqi journalist Ahmed Abdullah Fadaam asked a class of student journalists Wednesday.

Fadaam has a rare advantage few have. He has had the opportunity to view the war from both angles and see the feelings and opinions of people from both societies.

Changing art forms

Before the war, Fadaam was a sculptor. He had a Ph. D. in fine arts, and was a professor of arts at the University of Baghdad.

“Art was my life at the time,” he said. “I couldn’t imagine myself as a man who would chase stories and be involved in policy and war.”

But once the war started, he became a translator for a documentary news program that aired on NPR stations across the US. This eventually led to a job as a reporter for different American media.

“We began to be looked at as spies, as blood traders, as traitors,” Fadaam said of himself and other journalists.

Iraqis called those who associated with the Western press blood traders because they got money from stories, and stories from death. But Fadaam saw his work as a favor to his country.

“If you like your country, you want people to know the facts,” he said.

Regardless of the challenges he faced as a reporter, Fadaam has been a successful journalist. He worked for news organizations such as Agence France-Presse, National Public Radio, American Public Media and The New York Times, and received numerous prestigious awards, particularly for his series of personal anecdotes, “Ahmed’s Diary.”

“I don’t know if it’s growing up in Iraq,” he said of what makes his writing powerful. “What makes a good journalist is pure curiousity.”

Fadaam contributes much of his talent to his other craft, sculpting. For him, the relationship between the two is in the details.

“The more you work, the more details you get,” he said. “Clay is like a disease… and journalism is the same. Once you get it you won’t be getting rid of it for a long time.”

Facing the consequences of war

As conditions worsened in Iraq, the situation became dangerous for Fadaam, his wife and his two children.

After receiving a death threat in Dec. 2007 for his work as a reporter, Fadaam decided to move his family to Syria. He also received a visitor’s visa to the U.S. where he can safely practice journalism.

Meanwhile, he is sharing stories from Iraq with Americans.

“They’re [the Western media] not showing the other side of this society [Iraq],” Fadaam said. “That they’re capable of building something. Not just destroying.”

While here, he has had the chance to learn more about Americans’ viewpoints of Iraq, the war and the U.S. administration.

“I used to tell stories from Iraq to the Americans,” he said. “Now I’m going to tell stories to the Iraqis about what I saw in America.”

Connecting Cultures

Fadaam’s efforts to share both sides of the story is intended to establish friendly relations between the U.S. and Iraq.

Iraqis have seen much loss and bloodshed in their country since the beginning of the U.S. occupation. Young children are taught that this is caused by Americans, so hatred is bred from a young age.

“You have children now that open their eyes and see their country is under fire,” he said.

Among most Iraqis, it is common belief that all Americans are aggressive, are violent and like war, because the troops are all they see. But Fadaam has seen that this is not true, and said he thinks Americans should reach out to the Iraqis.

“The problem is there is no direct contact between people,” he said. “Try talking to each other away from government, away from policy, away from war. Just people to people. You’re open-minded; so are Iraqis.”

But Fadaam said talking is not enough. He pointed out that few Americans know much about the Iraqi culture.

“I’m not trying to underestimate your knowledge,” he said. “But this is the truth.”

With Iraq in shambles, there is still work the U.S. administration needs to do before anything can truly be healed.

“You have started something, and you should finish it,” he said. “At the same time, you have broken something and you should fix it.”

The main thing average Americans can do to mend the relationship between the two countries is learn about Iraq – its people, their culture, their history.

“Break these walls between you,” he said.

Vendors follow the 2008 presidential campaign making money along the way

Posted October 17, 2008 by mwilliamson5
Categories: Articles

Tags: , , , ,

Cashing in on the campaign

Miriam Williamson

Everyone has seen them. Some people are annoyed by them, some people are appreciative of what they have to offer. They are the vendors selling paraphernalia at large events.

In this case, they are the vendors at political rallies. They are the ones who call out to rally-goers, trying to sell buttons and T-shirts.

The lifestyle is unlike anything someone with a stereotypical source of income could imagine.

Phil Phunn has been selling campaign paraphernalia for every election since 1996.

Phil Phunn has been selling campaign paraphernalia for every election since 1996.

“We have put more than 10,000 miles on the van in the past two weeks,” said Chris Foran, a vendor from Florida who works for Campaign Curt.

Foran and his partner Phil Phunn have been following Sarah Palin’s campaign since August. They have driven through nearly every state, stopping in various cities where political rallies and events are held.

The McCain-Palin campaign is not Phunn’s or Foran’s sole source of income though. They go to events for both political parties selling memorabilia to supporters from both sides.

“I’m actually undecided for which one I’m voting for,” Phunn said. “I really don’t know. It’s the first time in my life I haven’t known who I am voting for this close to election day.”

Phunn has been working as a campaign paraphernalia vendor since 1996, following different campaigns. For this presidential race, before the democratic convention, Phunn followed Hillary Clinton exclusively, but once Barack Obama was chosen as the candidate, he was left unsure.

“Everyone wants to talk to me about politics,” he said. “But I really walk the middle aisle. I sell stuff for both campaigns, so that’s just more incentive not to really openly choose a side.”

This is a common quality among these vendors – just because they are selling the goods, that doesn’t mean they support it.

Morgan Sheets, a 25-year-old from Indianapolis, who works for Shop Political, has been to numerous rallies for both political parties during the past two months.

“This is an important election,” Sheets said. “It’s great seeing the rallies for both sides. And I get to talk to a lot of people who support both sides.”

Corinne Swazey and Barbara Baker buy their paraphernalia to support Sarah Palin from the vendors at the event.

Corinne Swazey and Barbara Baker, two women from Cary, N.C., who volunteer at the election polls, said they came to the rally to support Sarah Palin because they believe she and John McCain are the best choice to lead America.

“I bought all of this stuff here to support them,” Swazey said.

“We will wear it until we go to work at the polls,” Baker said. “But we aren’t allowed to wear it while we’re working there.”

Josh Reyes, a vendor from California, is actually strongly opposed to the McCain-Palin campaign.

“I support Obama,” he said. “There’s obviously two different diversities in the people in this race, but you know what? The enthusiasm, the drive… Obama has it. I hope he wins.”

Reyes got into selling campaign paraphernalia through a random connection.

“I hooked up with my boss and we sell stuff for both parties,” he said. “I’m really just doing this to get money.”

Phunn agrees that the job has nothing to do with supporting a specific candidate.

“It is a job,” Phunn said. “Everybody’s doing it for the money. Anyone who tells you different is lying.”

Phunn and his company don’t give any of their profit to specific candidates. Instead, they donate money to both the RNC and DNC so that they will be allowed to go to the events.

According to Reyes, business is booming. He and his boss get 50 percent of the cut while the other 50 percent goes to the campaign.

“You can literally make about 1,000 T-shirts for $200,” he said. “It’s a great profit.”

Reyes sells his T-shirts for $20, and said that he usually has days like the one he had at Elon – he can sell about 40 shirts.

Towards the end of the rally though, Reyes lowers his price to $10, and has a strategy that he claims works.

“Once I started pouting, asking people to help me out…” he said, “…it really f’in works.”

With one of the most popular tents at the event, Phil Phunn says his visit to Elon was a good one financially.

Phunn agreed that his day at Elon was a good day for business.

“And hey, I got to see Hank Williams Jr.,” he said of the day’s rally. “I get to meet a lot of interesting people who want to chat.”

He has had the opportunity to meet and take pictures with many high-profile characters, including Hillary Clinton, during his time following campaigns. According to Phunn, the primaries are actually the best time to meet people, and the Democratic party’s candidates are often more friendly.

“The Republicans are a little shyer,” he said.

Phunn and Foran are one of seven different crews working wtih Campaign Curt.

“He tries to keep us all spread apart so we don’t have competition against each other,” Foran said.

As for the competition among individual vendors, most agree that it is a friendly relationship.

“Even the competition outside of our company,” Sheets said, “we’re all social… well, civil. But on the team, we’re really close.”

While traveling to different states and cities is exciting, Phunn said that life following the campaign can be trying, especially with a 4-year-old daughter at home. It is mentally, emotionally and physically exhausting.

As soon as they could pack up their van, Phunn and Foran were planning to drive the nine-hour trip to Cincinnati through the night, without even taking the time to stop for showers or sleep.