Just so I’m clear as to the time-line here; the Arizona shooting takes place mid-morning on Saturday, January 8th. And the custom-made T-Shirts are draped on the over 14,000 seat-backs at the memorial site by 4:00 PM on Wednesday, January 12th? That sounds like a pretty tall order, considering the quantity of shirts and the importance of the messaging.
Yes, there were custom-printed memorial shirts for at least the 14,000 attendees who were seated inside the event. The dark blue colored shirts were emblazoned with the slogan…”Together We Thrive: Tucson and America.” The actual total number of shirts produced may have exceeded the number of available seats. Spill-over attendees were directed to a nearby facility. Regardless of whether the count was 14,000 or 50,000, it was a large production order for the company or companies that produced them. Maybe, barring any unforeseeable glitch this kind of turn-around speed could be possible. But, there’s more involved than just the production logistics.
Somebody needed to justify a large, custom t-shirt print job based on some upcoming event or campaign. Somebody needed to brainstorm and conceptualize the messaging. Somebody needed to develop a distribution plan. All of this and much, much more needed to happen in order for the shirts to work the magic that they did. So, at what point in this process did the actual order or orders get placed? My guess is that it would have to be no sooner than the official decision to hold a memorial service, regardless of whether the President would be in attendance or not. The earliest public announcement of the event I could find was on the UofA news site, dated January 10th; President and Mrs. Obama to Visit UA Campus Wednesday.
If the decision was made at 8:00 AM on the 10th, then the order could have been placed very shortly thereafter. Let’s say the order for 14,000+ shirts was placed with nearby printer(s) at 9:00 AM on January 10th. Considering that the doors were opened at 4:00 PM at the McKale Memorial Center with all the shirts folded and draped over the seat-backs, I would cut off receiving the shirts any later than 12:00 PM. That would give only 4:00 hours for volunteers to fold and drape.