Winds gusting up to 25 miles per hour whopped at his Palestinian flag, and he stood deep in the mush of Lafayette Square, but David Willcox wasn't about to go home, not with a brewing war to protest.
Every Saturday, Willcox and other members of the Coalition to Stop U.S. Intervention in the Middle East gather across the street from the White House and chant "No blood for oil" and demonstrate against the troop deployment in Saudi Arabia.
Yesterday, they did so during the tail end of a low-pressure system that dropped about 2 inches of rain on the area -- and up to 3 inches in parts of Montgomery County -- before giving way to glum, but dry, skies. Except for a couple of road closures in Fairfax County because of flooding and some fender-benders, the weather seemed to cause little real inconvenience, officials said.
"It didn't seem to slow anyone," Willcox said, as about 40 protesters milled about, decrying everything, including the death penalty, deforestation and U.S. involvement in Central America. "It's amazing and heartening that there's this many people who care."
In addition to the rain, it was a bit more chilly than the usual autumnal high of 60 degrees, according to the National Weather Service. The mercury hit 56 degrees at 8 a.m. yesterday and dropped to about 50 degrees for the rest of the day. But winds of 15 to 25 miles per hour made it seem much colder.
Today should be more enjoyable, partly sunny with a high of about 55 and lows in the high 30s, according to Accu-Weather, a private forecasting service. The high winds should continue until Tuesday.
While it may have been damp yesterday, the Mall was not deserted.
In the line of people not quite encircling the Washington Monument, hands were clasped over ears, people jogged in place and one young boy buried his head inside the jacket of a taller companion -- anything to keep warm during the 25-minute wait to get inside.
"They're a lot of people in line for it being so windy," said Dale Lowe, of Rockville.
Over at Lafayette Square, dozens of men queued up for a different reason: soup, hot chocolate and clothes being handed out by volunteers from Ebenezer African Methodist Episcopal Church.
"Need some clothes?" church member Ron Chloe asked as a man with a sweater cap pulled tightly over his head came by.
"Yeah, I could use a sweat shirt," he replied.
After sorting through the already well-picked-over bags of clothes, the man walked away empty-handed.
"God bless," Chloe called after him.