The hoopla surrounding tonight's rally for Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama in downtown St. Paul is giving city licensing staff a taste of what they could expect from the Republican National Convention in September.
Officials say peddlers are streaming into the city's licensing department "in droves," hoping to hawk pro-Obama merchandise.
Larry Zangs handles the street vendor licenses for the city. By noon today, St. Paul granted 12 licenses to vendors selling pro-Obama T-shirts and buttons.
Zangs says he was surprised by the influx.
"Up until yesterday, I was thinking we were going to get some. But now I've kind of elevated my thoughts to say, 'Maybe it's more than some,'" said Zangs. "Prior to this, I've had individuals asking about these things, but they don't show up. This is the first time we've gotten a dozen all of a sudden, boom. Our clerks are calling me saying, 'Larry, what's going on?'"
Most of the peddlers appear to be from out of state and are following the Obama campaign.
Zangs says he expects to receive more vendor applications in the summer months leading up to the RNC.