Today is one of the middle days of a Jewish holiday called Sukkot. Traditionally during these days families do fun activities together. Torah Academy here in town got a special price at Nickelodeon Universe, the amusement park at the Mall of America (Mall of the Universe is what it's called in my family- and I try to stay away as much as possible), so invited all their students and families to get discounted wristbands and enjoy the all-you-can-ride fun!
Not having kids of my own (yet), I took advantage of a free day and scooped up my friend T's kids and took them to the Mall of Consumption. We met three other families and rode for hours- myself, 6 times on the Pepsi Orange Squeak with the smaller kids (who need chaperones if they're between 42" and 47" tall). Did great until the last one, where I felt a bit nauseated.... but I guess that's what made it the last one.
Setting aside how much fun I had running around with the kids, you want to know what the best part was? The entire park was almost empty except for all the Jews roaming and riding around. I mean there were hundreds of us. Tzitzis (the prayer fringes you can see hanging out under the men's shirts), and sheitels (wigs) as far as the eye could see. Little clusters of girls in identical outfits, teen girls in their long black skirts and cute tops over long-sleeved shirts, yeshiva bochers (students) in their kippot and matching white shirts and black pants, we were a swarm, a force to be reckoned with. Not growing up in a frum community (or really in a community where there were any frum people at all), I've never seen this many observant Jews together outside of Brooklyn or Israel. Not to mention the fact that when I have seen them, it's always been either in a religious setting (I mean, no one is surprised to see a huge gathering of observant Jews in Israel, right?) or in an insulated environment- never "out in my world like me." Score another point for Jewish pride and unity.