Highly publicized and frequently angry confrontations with members of Congress at "town hall" meetings in the summer became a hallmark of the Tea Party's first year.
"I WAS NOT ALONE"
A common thread to tales of Tea Partiers is that in the early months they discovered others felt the same and, all of a sudden, they felt empowered.
Tanya Bachand traveled to New York for the February 27 Tea Party event in New York and was surprised at how many conservatives there were in a liberal city. "I didn't even vote in the last midterm elections because I felt so disillusioned," she said. "But all of a sudden I felt I was not alone."
Bachand returned to Connecticut and started her own Tea Party group. She recalls an early meeting where a biker, a preacher and a businessman in a suit sat together on her living room couch.
"They had absolutely nothing in common, except they wanted to do what's right for this country," she said.
Bachand's group teamed up with others in the state -- from gun rights to anti-abortion groups -- to form the Connecticut Patriot Alliance. "Everybody in the alliance has their own particular bugaboo," she said. "But we all agree on the Constitution, so we work together on the big issues."
They focused on local Senator Chris Dodd, the Democrat chairman of the U.S. Senate Banking Committee. "Every time Chris Dodd set foot in the state, between us we had 50 to 100 people waiting to protest," Bachand said. "We made a real statement."