Climate organizer K.C. Golden stood with his back to a sparkling Elliott Bay in Seattle today, hushed the elementary-school students crowding a stage with him, and pointed to the glass wall of the convention center next door.

“Here’s what’s transformational,” said Golden, of Climate Solutions. “The Environmental Protection Agency is in there working to be an agency that protects the environment. It’s that simple. Our leaders are leading.”

Inside, the EPA held a rather dry public hearing. Outside, a crowd of climate-action supporters cheered them onward. It was an odd rally, with as much praising of the government’s recent action as there was demanding of a new course. Organizers handed out postcards to urge the EPA to take action on global warming. Speaker after speaker told those gathered to stay vigilant. But the crowd sort of just wanted to party. For most of them, it could well have been the first political gathering of the Obama era, and the festive atmosphere reflected it.