• I don’t consider myself a political person. I barely remember to vote every couple of years. This year is turning out to be very different.

      ~ Robin

      Crowd gathering at a Bernie Sanders rally (Photo - Robin Southworth).

      Crowd gathering at a Bernie Sanders rally (Photo – Robin Southworth).

      A few Sunday nights ago, I heard from a friend that a Bernie Sanders rally was happening in my hometown the next day. With just twenty-four hours notice, I decided to go.

      By Robin Southworth

      The rally was held at an arena that normally holds 11, 000 rabid fans of the local professional soccer team. Tonight, it would hold that many rabid Bernie fans.

      I knew there would be a line, so I resolved to get there by 3pm. Two hours before the gates opened and five hours before the man himself would speak. I pulled into the main entrance at 3:07. There was a small line of cars paying for the parking. The parking was nicely organized (if not expensive at $10 a car) and, once parked, found myself very near the front entrance to the Stadium. Unfortunately, the line wrapped around from the front of the stadium, down the side and all the way around to the entrance to the property. My parking spot would probably make it easier when I left, I decided.

      People lining up at a Bernie Sanders rally (Photo - Robin Southworth).

      People lining up at a Bernie Sanders rally (Photo – Robin Southworth).

      I walked to the end of the line, passing the folks who had arrived early…a varied group. There were, as the mainstream media will tell you frequently, lots of young people in their 20’s. BUT! There were also middle-agers, like myself, former hippies, entrepreneurs selling Bernie buttons, and a young man playing African rhythms on a 4.5” wide drum, rolling it along the sidewalk. The organizers were very politely asking folks to use the entire sidewalk. Once we all did that, I found I had moved up almost to the corner. As I was standing in line, I heard an organizer tell someone that the stadium held 11,000, but they were anticipating 15,000. Based on the number of people already there, I was not surprised.

      As a single person, I moved up in the line quickly. So quickly I found a couple friends of mine ahead of me and joined them. As the line went on, in addition to the drummer, there was a young man dressed as “Col. Bunny Sandals.” He was a clown in the European tradition with a penchant for political satire. He was funny and the people in line seemed to enjoy him.

      Best and saddest tattoo I saw all day (Photo - Robin Southworth).

      Best and saddest tattoo I saw all day (Photo – Robin Southworth).

      The gates opened and, due to DHS and the Secret Service, it was time consuming to get through security. Once through, however, it was delightful. There were an assortment of food trucks and stalls. You couldn’t bring in outside food or drink, so, in the tradition of capitalism, bottles of water were being sold for $5 each.

      It was a long time before Bernie’s scheduled time, so there were bands playing to the assembling crowd. The first one was a woman-fronted rock band. They were pretty good. The last band was interesting. Joseph in the Well, fronted by violinist Joe Kye. I was at the back of the stadium, but it looked like a violin, percussion, and mandolin. They did covers and a few original songs, all of which were folk rock-ish and set a very calm, subtle mood in the crowd. At the back of the field/grass, there were lots of children running around, a young woman practicing yoga (which all the children wanted to copy), and a guide dog in training being trained. For about fifteen minutes the crowd started doing The Wave around the stadium.

      At a Bernie Sanders rally (Photo - Robin Southworth).

      At a Bernie Sanders rally (Photo – Robin Southworth).

      The pre-speakers started about 7:45pm. Actor/activist Danny Glover introduced Senator Sanders, to much cheering. When the man himself showed up the crowd went nuts. Think, “Ber-nie! Ber-nie!” chanting. Senator Sanders spoke for almost a full hour. His persona is exactly what you see on television. He talked about making sure this country has a livable minimum wage, everyone has healthcare, free college, and all the other things you see him speak about on television.

      What struck me was how “presidential” he looked. It wasn’t the backdrop, or the cheering crowds, or the Secret Service agents everywhere. He stood at the podium with a strength and surety that belied his age (seventy-four on his last birthday). His Brooklyn dialect was less pronounced than you’d imagine. He moved like a much younger man.

      By the end of the speech, I had hit a wall and decided to skip the crowds leaving and exit early. It was a good choice as the rally ended just as I got to my car. I got out of the parking lot in a very timely manner. On the drive home, I thought about the evening. It felt less like a political rally and more like a big party with a speaker at the end.

      Cheaper water would have been nice.


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      Comments

      1. J.j. OMalley says:

        “Few Sunday nights ago, I heard from a friend that a Bernie Sanders rally was happening in my hometown the next day. With just twenty-four hours notice, I decided to go.”

        What “middle aged” person writes like this-unless you are listing specials on a sandwich board? The decline of Journalism is more evident eveyday!

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