CHARLOTTE, NC (WWAY) -- It was a Labor Day unlike any other in Charlotte. With the Queen City at the center of the political world this week, thousands of people filled the streets of Uptown Charlotte for a special celebration. Meanwhile, the politicking is well underway.
It had all the trappings of a regular Labor Day celebration: a marching band, games and plenty of food the First Lady would surely frown at.
CarolinaFest welcomed the public to Charlotte and the Democratic National Convention Monday.
Deb Butler, who's challenging Republican Thom Goolsby for his state Senate seat in New Hanover County, said it was a great start to the week.
"I couldn't be more pleased," Butler said. "I mean, the energy is so positive. It's so exciting. It's beautiful weather. And I have never seen so many police and volunteers in my life."
That army of thousands is a constant reminder of just how big an event a political convention is. Despite the increased security, you just never know who you might run into taking it all in, like civil rights leader Jesse Jackson.
"I'm biased," Rev. Jackson said of what he thought of the host city. "I was born in Greenville, SC. Went to school at North Carolina A&T, so Greenville, Charlotte, Greensboro… this is home for me. This is a big deal."
While Monday's focus may have been on fun, the underlying theme of politics was not far away.
Just blocks from CarolinaFest, the Republican Party has set up shop at the NASCAR Hall of Fame. The GOP is not waiting for the convention's opening gavel to resume its offensive on Democrats and President Obama.
"Democrats are dispirited. Enthusiasm is clearly on the Republican side, and it's for a simple reason," Republican National Committee Chair Reince Priebus said. "The simple reason is after four years of Barack Obama, we are not better off."