Park Service: 'No Guarantee' Rally With Stewart and Colbert Will Happen


Comedy Central's Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert have invited tens of thousands of people to the Washington, D.C., on Oct. 30 for their "Rally to Restore Sanity" on the National Mall.

But the National Park Service hasn't issued a permit for the event yet, and it can't guarantee that the rally will be approved, NPS spokesman Bill Line told DailyFinance Tuesday.

"The one and only thing that has happened is the National Park Service has received a paper application," Line told DailyFinance. Until the Park Service and Comedy Central can reach a "meeting of the minds" on a number of issues that need to be worked out before the application is approved, "we cannot say that there is any guaranteed permit here," Line said.

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"The National Park Service has no deadline other than Oct. 30 to either grant or deny the permit," Line added.

Line said the the Park Service has received applications for a "special event" to take place that day from three organizations: Comedy Central, and two PR firms it is working with on the rally, Minassian Media and Chris Wayne and Associates.

Comedy Central, which is owned by media giant Viacom (VIA), expects 25,000 people to attend, according to its permit application. Line said that the Park Service will be meeting with representatives for Comedy Central, but declined to say when those meetings would take place.

"There are a number of points that have to be addressed by anyone who walks in the door, and each application is unique," Line said. "We have to hear from them what exactly it is they are proposing to do."

Is It a Comedy Show or a Political Rally?

Line said the Park Service must be satisfied that the event will be consistent with "the Park Service mission to preserve, conserve and maintain the park property for future generations." He said officials will ask Comedy Central what equipment they plan to bring, what their transportation plans are, and what they will do in case of rain. Security will also be a topic of discussion.

Line said that "advertising is verboten" in the national parks. The agency "has very strict rules that there is no advertising of any kind in terms of signage and in terms of sponsorship or sponsorship recognition."

He added: "In terms of words used on a stage, clearly there is First Amendment protection. We take a content neutral approach to every application that comes through our door."

Steve Albani, a Comedy Central spokesman, said the event will comply with all necessary Park Service regulations. Albani declined to say whether the event will be a comedy show or a political rally -- or a combination of both. But Line said that Comedy Central has asked for permission to host a "political engagement/political entertainment event."

"The National Park Service has a responsibility to every American to make sure that our mission is adhered to," Line said. "We have a responsibility that the resource is not damaged in any way, and if it were to become damaged these three entities would be responsible for full reimbursement."

Line said that after Glenn Beck's August rally, the Park Service found damage on the National Mall that it estimated to be in the range of $5,000 to $10,000.