This story was written by Andy Bockelman, The Mirror
Actor Kevin Costner spoke at the University Center Tuesday about the benefits of early voting as part of a Colorado college tour.
University of Northern Coloradostudents and Greeley residents were lined up outside the entrance of the UC's Panorama Room as early as 12:30 p.m., more than two hours before the scheduled start time at 2:45 p.m. Freshman history major Eric Bartoszek was one of the first in line.
"I'm just here to see what Kevin Costner has to say about Obama since he's my favorite actor," he said.
Bartoszek said he also attended Sen. Joe Biden's speech on Oct. 21.
"It creates a good impact for students," Bartoszek said. "It grabs their attention and gets more votes."
Sophomore graphic design major Elizabeth Broeker said she was impressed by the level of student participation in this year's election.
"Events like these build involvement even stronger," she said.
Fourth Congressional District Democratic Candidate Betsey Markey opened for Costner by rallying the crowd about both her campaign and that of presidential nominee Sen. Barack Obama.
"This is your election," she said, and went on to discuss political points including affordable college costs, offshore jobs and the need for health care benefits.
Costner took the stage at 3 p.m. to a chorus of chants throughout the crowd - including "Bull Durham" and "Waterworld" - before he began his speech by complimenting the beauty of colleges and towns in Colorado.
"I have a home here that's my favorite place to be," Costner said.
Costner said he mortgaged his Colorado house to pay for the summer movie "Swing Vote," a comedy about the voting process.
Costner said touring college campuses gives feelings of nostalgia. He likened current events concerning college students to those of his generation in the 1970s - a disgraced president about to leave office, lines for oil and intolerance overtaking the songs of The Beatles.
"I'm determined to make good on the promises of my generation," he said.
Costner said the best way to do this would be to take action within the next week by voting.
"There are no excuses," he said. "Either you care enough to vote or you don't."
He referred to the youth of America as a "powerful special interest group" and encouraged students to take responsibility and involve friends.
"If you work hard this week, you'll have a reason to party next week," Costner said. "But only if you have reason to celebrate."
Bartoszek took these words to heart.
"It was very moving," he said. "I even saw people around me crying. He's a classy guy and he reached out to us and made a real difference."
Senior business management major Aaron Fischer, the president of the UNC chapter of Students for Barack Obama, estimated a crowd of 300 for the event.
"It was inspiring to see a celebrity come out and give more than just a pep talk," Fischer said. "He explained the importance and impact of voting, and I think that's what matters."