AIDS activists start N.Y.-to-D.C. march


NEW YORK -- Drivers entering Manhattan through the Lincoln Tunnel yesterday grimaced with dismay. Were all those people really walking into the tunnel's central tube?

Indeed, they were - for a cause. Carrying signs calling for an end to AIDS, more than 500 activists strolled and shouted their way under the Hudson River in what organizers described as the start of a new national movement to eradicate the virus worldwide.

It took nearly an hour for the crowd to move through. Many of the marchers planned to stay on long past the tunnel's western terminus in Weehawken, N.J.

Their destination was Washington, where - after three weeks of walking - they plan to meet other marchers from across the country on Nov. 4 for rallies throughout the nation's capital.

"It gives us a chance to spread the word in all kinds of cities and towns along the way," said Charles King, president of Housing Works, an AIDS support group in New York that helped organize the march.

Using the Lincoln Tunnel, he added, "was something dramatic to signify the importance of ending the epidemic."

According to the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, private use of the Hudson tunnels is rare. A Special Olympics run through a tube of the Lincoln Tunnel takes place every April, on a Sunday morning. At the Holland Tunnel, an annual motorcycle ride called Gooche's Garlic Run chugs through every June.

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