S.C. Democrats will flock to Columbia for the S.C. Democratic Party’s convention weekend starting Friday. With a chance to meet 22 of 24 Democrats vying for president, crowds could get big. Here’s what you need to know, whether you go or hope to avoid the events:
The Blue Palmetto Dinner
If you go: First, the S.C. Democratic Party’s annual dinner at 6 p.m. Friday at the Columbia Metropolitan Convention Center on Lincoln Street is sold out, but there’s always the wait list. The featured speaker this year is U.S. Rep. Cheri Bustos, the chairwoman of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee. Free parking is available at the convention center parking lot.
If you don’t go: The dinner could affect traffic on Lincoln Street and surrounding streets, and parking in nearby garages that evening.
The fish fry
If you go: Keep the vuvuzuelas, roller blades, beach balls and air horns at home Friday night if you are attending U.S. Rep. Jim Clyburn’s famous fish fry in Columbia. Also, get ready for the crowd. It is expected to be the largest gathering of the Democratic presidential candidates in the 2020 cycle so far.
And that means congestion in downtown Columbia, so carpooling or using a rideshare app could be a good bet.
For safety reasons, attendees must also abide by the Fish Fry’s clear-bag policy, outlined on the event’s Eventbrite page. Certain items will be prohibited inside the event itself, including balloons and beach balls, umbrellas, coolers and ice chests, noise-making devices, signs, flags and banners and any unapproved handout, advertisement or pamphlet.
If you don’t go: Gervais Street and the Vista could see even more foot and car traffic than your typical Friday night out in Columbia, especially near EdVenture and the Gervais Street Bridge. The fish fry is being held in at Coble Plaza, right behind the children’s museum.
So, if you are hoping to dodge traffic, avoid parts of Gervais Street on Friday, then certain parts of Lincoln and Senate streets on Saturday when thousands converge on the state’s capital.
The Democratic Convention
Columbia police will close Lincoln Street, in front of the convention center, from 6-10 a.m. No other road closures were anticipated, the Columbia Police Department said.
If you go: On Saturday, a limited number of parking spots will be available at Columbia’s convention center on Saturday.
If you don’t go: If you’d rather watch the convention from your couch, you will be able to watch it live. But don’t expect to find a live feed from every news outlet. The S.C. Democratic Party has given MSNBC exclusive rights to broadcast the convention in real time.