Sizing Up a Crowd

How do experts come up with crowd estimates at Washington events?

Crowd estimates in DC can be less than scientific. Case in point: Michele Bachmann’s count of 1.6 million people at Glenn Beck’s 2010 rally on the Mall. The real figure was closer to 87,000, says Curt Westergard of Digital Design & Imaging Service in Falls Church. His company estimates crowd sizes for CBS News by flying a camera-rigged balloon above the Mall. Here’s how it works.

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Staff Writer

Michael J. Gaynor has written about fake Navy SEALs, a town without cell phones, his Russian spy landlord, and many more weird and fascinating stories for the Washingtonian. He lives in DC, where his landlord is no longer a Russian spy.