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Photo of several hundred young people, the 2007 Solar Decathlon team members, posed for a group photo and standing in front of a large white tent. Photo of a dense crowd of people lining the walkway between the houses on the solar village, with the U.S. Capitol building in the background.

Crowds in the solar village were unbelievably large on Saturday. Some lines to see the team's houses were almost 150 people long!

Photo of seven women dancing, with two of them wearing long ruffled skirts. Four men are sitting down, with three of them beating on large drums.

A troupe of dancers from Puerto Rico brought welcome entertainment to the solar village on this busy Saturday.

Photo of a crowd of about 30 people standing in a long line on a ramp leading up to the front of a house.

The lines of people waiting to see the inside of the University of Missouri-Rolla home (shown here), and all the homes in the solar village, were long throughout the day.

Solar Decathlon 2007

Daily Journal - October 13, 2007

Standing, and Dancing, Room Only on the National Mall

Yesterday we opened the solar village and put on our public faces. But just prior to that, the teams paused for a group photo that included as many of them as we could pull away from putting the finishing touches on their homes.

As for today...well, we've never seen anything like it. The crowds were so dense in the solar village that it was hard to tell where one house line began and another ended. It is enormously gratifying to the teams, Decathlon staff, and me personally that so many people have come to the competition eager to embrace a solar way of life.

"I can't wait...tell me more," said a woman visiting from Pennsylvania. "Look at those louvers...they have solar cells right in them. I love the way they look," she added, referring to the house from the Technische Universität Darmstadt.

A couple who are planning to build a retirement home in Maine were among the visitors. They know they want to use solar energy, but were standing in line for the houses so they could see the various approaches the teams used. "It's awesome," the woman said. "Everyone we've met in line is just as interested as we are."

Through it all, the decathletes kept smiling and answering question after question.

The free Consumer Workshops began today, and there, too, it was standing room only. A session entitled "Solar Energy for the Homeowner," which was presented twice today, drew the biggest audiences, with about 200 people coming to each session.

Also today, the Raices de Borinquen, a troupe of entertainers, came to the Decathlon to support the Universidad de Puerto Rico team. Festive drumming and singing could be heard throughout the solar village. Visitors brave enough to try joined the dancers for a salsa lesson. This is Puerto Rico's third Decathlon, and we've come to count on this team to bring life, spirit, and joyful music to the Decathlon that's as refreshing as an island breeze.

This music was a backdrop for a crucial activity that began today: the subjective judging. Three juries—Architecture, Market Viability, and Communications—each visited 12 of the 20 homes. They'll visit the other eight tomorrow before beginning their deliberations.