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It's one rocking coin show

Where am I and what have you done with my coin show?

I swear I checked into the DoubleTree Hotel in Rosemont, Ill., on Monday to attend the ANA World's Fair of Money show.

But at 9:45 last night, just as I had settled into bed (it was a long day), fireworks started booming little more than a block away. What? I could clearly see them, and hear them, from my hotel room window.

I called the front desk (this is not July 4) and asked what was going on. I was told it was part of something going on in the adjacent Rosemont Entertainment District. Ah.

They ended shortly so I was back to bed, only to be awakened at 2 a.m. by the sound of a bullhorn and sirens. I tried to make sense of what was being said but only caught a few words: traffic, orderly, line. So once again I hauled myself out of bed and went to the window.

Directly below the street in front of the hotel was almost empty. A few people walked out of the parking ramp that stood between the hotel and the entertainment district, but I didn't see hoards of rowdy concert goers swarming the street.

Just to the south on River Road in front of the convention center four police cars had their lights on and were at times blocking vehicle traffic and slowly driving up and down the street. What the heck were they doing? Then I noticed the people. Lots of people. It looked like the police were herding them down the street.

That must have been some concert, I thought, to let out so late and cause such congestion on the street at 2:15 a.m.

And then it dawned on me. These weren't fan-crazed concert goers, these were folks trying to get in line and become one of 500 people who would receive tickets from the U.S. Mint to buy the gold Kennedy half dollar that goes on sale at 11 a.m. today at the Mint booth.

Chances are they were a mix of collectors and entrepreneurs. After all, reports are that the first four people to obtain the half dollars Tuesday sold them for a combined $20,000. Not bad considering the Mint sells the coins for $1,240 each.

I expect this scenario will play out the next two nights as well as the Mint puts 500 more coins on sale Thursday and Friday. Perhaps I'll buy some earplugs.