The city welcomed thousands of participants in the Millions More Movement this past weekend with little effort and no major problems.
Many participants spoke of giving back to the community. Now the question is: How much did they give back to the District, in the form of dollar bills?
Precisely what the march added to city business and tax coffers from the increased traffic is hard to determine, but it is clear the participants did not give city officials headaches.
"We were pleased with the way things turned out," said Sharon Gang, spokeswoman for Mayor Anthony A. Williams (D). "There were no incidents, and it showed our city can host and welcome large numbers of people."
In the past decade, the city government has improved its efficiency on and coordination of big events. And since the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, security has played a much larger role.
D.C. police said they made no arrests, and U.S. Park Police Chief Dwight E. Pettiford said his officers experienced no problems.
Gang said the city has had recent practice in planning such events, including hosting the funeral of former president Ronald Reagan and the opening of the National World War II Memorial.
"The more the city does these large events, the better prepared we are," Gang said.
Planning for the Millions More Movement started months ago with an alphabet soup of agencies and organizations. Like many things in Washington, it wasn't simple. For example, three police departments had jurisdiction: D.C. police, the U.S. Park Police and the U.S. Capitol Police.
The planning apparently worked.
A spokesman for the city's Department of Transportation said downtown traffic rerouting and road closings did not hinder traffic significantly. The hundreds of buses that brought participants to the Mall were told to drop travelers off at Metro stations, which kept idling buses off city streets.
Metro saw an increase in riders Saturday, said transit agency spokeswoman Cathy Asato.
"We had 394,924 people on the trains when our average for Saturday is between 275,000 and 300,000,'' she said. Additional train service was added to accommodate the extra riders.
The movement's economic impact is less certain. Weekend hotel occupancy rates were not available at press time.
But a spokeswoman for the Washington D.C. Convention and Tourism Corp. said a hotel room was hard to find in the city. In addition to the march, some conventioneers participating in the Transcatheter Cardiovascular Therapeutics annual meeting, which started Monday, came into town early.
While there are many large events in the city, each has a different economic impact on local businesses. "There is no way to predict," said Victoria Isley, spokeswoman for the tourism corporation.
"Each event is different," she said, "particularly with events on the Mall. There is no way to indicate if they came from out of town or were drive-ins. With this or the Cherry Blossom Festival, it could be that people are staying with friends of families. There's no way to get [the information] in a specific way."
Lynne Breaux, executive director of Restaurant Association Metropolitan Washington, said the weekend was a mixed bag for downtown eateries.
She said that although some restaurants, especially those in Union Station, saw extra business, at others marchers replaced regulars who stayed away from downtown because of the street closures.
Breaux said B. Smith's at Union Station did a whopping business, helped by its convenience to travelers. And for restaurants and bars on Capitol Hill, the crowds helped make up for the loss of business when Congress is out of town.
Breaux said, however, that many marchers didn't even have to leave the Mall to eat.
"There was quite a large setup for food service on the Mall. So that cut into what could have helped business," she said.
Staff writer Hamil R. Harris contributed to this report.