BOSTON – Hours after presidential nominee John Kerry (search) energized the Democratic National Convention (search) with his acceptance speech, 35,000 delegates, journalists and visitors began streaming out of the city Friday.
Security and transportation officials prepared for what could be their busiest day of the week as they provided protection for thousands of dignitaries leaving the city. Long lines at security checkpoints greeted travelers at Logan International Airport (search).
"I've never seen lines like this before," said Thomas Karanian, 41, of Boston, who attended the convention as a guest and was headed to San Francisco on vacation. "The airport is a mess."
While arrivals for the start of the convention were mostly spread out over two days last weekend, the majority of the departures will be packed into one day, according to airline officials and delegations.
Democratic fund raiser Regina Montoya, 50, of Dallas, and her husband, Paul Coggins, 52, said they were not put off by the extraordinary security for the convention, the first since the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.
"They had to address the safety concerns and it paid off because there were no problems," Montoya said.
Several major airlines said their flights out of Logan are heavily booked for Friday, swelled by the rush of convention participants.
"We are running very, very full," said Amy Kudwa, a spokeswoman for US Airways. "We've got aircraft and crews on reserve to make sure we can cover everything."
The Secret Service ordered 40 miles of area highways closed as a security precaution for the convention, along with the busy North Station rail terminal, which lies directly beneath the FleetCenter (search), the site of the four-day convention.
Traffic and transit nightmares forecast for the convention never materialized as many commuters apparently stayed home or went on vacation.