The day after the giant Hands Across America charity event, organizers across the country began closing up their offices, paying the last bills, figuring out where to donate office supplies, analyzing what went right and what could have gone better, and saying goodbye to staff and volunteers.
"I'm writing out bills: $20,000 for sound equipment, $4,270 for portable toilets and $5,000 for printing," said Donna Brazile, Hands Across America's director for the District.
"I need to get on with my life now, do small things again like go buy eggs or browse through a record store," she said.
While it is estimated that the event will cost between $12 million and $14 million, most of the debts will be covered by corporate contributions, said Fred Droz, national project coordinator.
The climax of the fund-raising extravaganza came at 3 p.m. Sunday when, according to organizers, five million people joined hands along a 4,152-mile route that looped through 16 states, including Maryland, and through the District of Columbia. The line stretched from New York's Battery Park to the Queen Mary's dock in Long Beach, Calif., although there were gaps in some areas.
For 15 minutes the participants, who were to have paid $10 to $35 apiece to take part, clasped hands and sang. A multitude of others who had not paid joined at the last minute, many of them accepting pledge envelopes handed out by organizers.
"Close to a half-million people in D.C. participated," said Brazile. "At 2:40 we had gaps along Bladensburg Road and in Georgetown. But by 2:50, there were none," she said. D.C. officials and Park Police estimated the turnout at 100,000, including both participants and observers.
"We had 24 staging areas and one of the biggest problems was to get people to leave these areas," said Brazile. "We wanted a lemon-shaped line around the Monument, but so many people showed up we had to create new lines and feeder lines. If we could have run people from Lafayette Park and from around the mall, we could have filled the gaps in Maryland."
Brazile said other popular District spots were Dupont Circle in Northwest, the former Curtis Bros. store on Martin Luther King Avenue SE and Hechinger Mall in NE.
In Maryland, 100,000 people had signed up to participate, said Donna Comegys, a lawyer who served as deputy press secretary for the Maryland operation.
"We're looking at 90 to 95 percent success in Maryland," she said, adding that her Memorial Day began "at 8 a.m. with the phone ringing off the hook in this office, from people thanking us to people wanting to donate money.
"We're down to donating leftover food to shelters and donating office equipment -- everything from paper to computers -- to local organizations," she said. "From now until June 15, our staff will be dwindling down."
As of Saturday, organizers said they had collected between $20 million and $30 million in cash and pledges from individual contributors and corporate sponsors.
"It'll probably be three months or four months before it is all in," Ken Kragen, the organizer of Hands Across America and its famous predecessor, "We Are the World," said yesterday on "The CBS Morning News."
A 35-member task force will be established next month to oversee distribution of the funds. Organizers have said that 60 percent of the profits will be donated to established groups and 40 percent to new ones that will examine the causes of poverty. Kragen said supporting events were held Sunday in Bermuda, Japan, Canada, South Korea and West Germany.
The links in Sunday's chain were made up of a cross section of America.
In Washington, President Reagan and his wife Nancy held the hands of children of White House staffers. Across the street in Lafayette Park, Mitch Snyder and others from the Community for Creative Non-Violence clasped hands for a few minutes to chant disapproval of administration policies toward the poor.
"It ruined the spirit of the day," Brazile said of the demonstration. "I strongly disagree with the president's policies on the homeless and needy, but I welcomed the president's participation. He wasn't the reason we did Hands, he was just another participant. Mitch could have made a statement by simply joining the line."
Reagan wrote a "very substantial" check to Hands Across America yesterday, according to Kragen, who said the White House asked that the amount not be disclosed.
"There was a feeling of unity" that continued through the cleanup, said Comegys. "At the Delaware state line, individual citizens came out with garbage bags and did the majority of the cleaning up. Marshals, city crews and volunteers cleaned up in Baltimore. By 4:30 at the Inner Harbor it looked like nothing had happened."