The usual crowd gathered outside the Ed Sullivan theater in New York City was joined Friday by enthusiastic Sanders backers before his appearance on the show
As usual, scores of people were lined up to see the Late Show with Stephen Colbert in New York City on Friday afternoon. What was unusual, though, was the crowd of 150 people who were gathered across the street to show their support for his guest: Bernie Sanders.
Sanders fans chanted, waved signs, and enthusiastically approached members of the public outside the Ed Sullivan theater in midtown Manhattan, in a public show of support that followed the Democratic candidate’s earlier rally in the city .
“We’re here to welcome people and we’re here to register some voters,” said Patrizia Pelgrift, who organised the rally as an opportunity to sign up new supporters. “And I’m a big fan of Stephen Colbert.”
Pelgrift, 44, is an Italian citizen and not actually eligible to vote in the US. “But I can promote,” she said. “We average half a vote,” her American husband, Robert, chipped in.
Sanders supporter Bennett Weiss was a popular member of the rally. He had brought a large black umbrella with “homemade” Sanders buttons pinned all over it.
“They’re free or $2 for Bernie,” he said. Weiss, a retired 67-year-old, said that he planned to perform “some semi-funny shtick” to convince people to hand over their money.
The shtick certainly seemed to be working, with buttons being handed out like candy as Weiss urged supporters to “never take off your buttons”.
“Even in the shower,” Weiss told his audience. “Think how embarrassed you would be if people were looking at you in the shower and you didn’t have your Bernie button.”
A “Bernie 2016”-branded Tesla Model S proved to be a draw for passersby and supporters outside the theater. Both selfies and traditional photographs were snapped in front of the vehicle, most of the subjects waving signs provided by rally organisers.
Some of those waiting to get into the Colbert show joined in the spirit of things, with many wearing pins and stickers as they entered the theater doors.
Others in line were less impressed by the Sanders fans.
“I feel like they need a job. They need to enjoy America’s workforce rather than spending their time in the middle of the day doing nothing,” said one young woman, who asked not to be named.
When it was pointed out that she herself was spending her time in the middle of the day doing nothing, she clarified that she works “six days a week”.
Before long there was a mass exodus of supporters from the sidewalk as word came that Sanders himself was arriving at the stage door around the corner.
Around 150 people huddled by the entrance hoping to catch a glimpse of their man. Trucks and cars honked their horns as they passed, although it was difficult to tell whether these were honks of support or of warning, as some of the more excited fans had begun to crowd the street.
Sanders finally arrived in a black SUV, to roars from the assembled enthusiasts. “Feel the Bern,” they chanted. “Bernie,” they shouted.
The man himself did not disappoint his followers, shaking hands and smiling before he was whisked off for his television appearance.
With that, most of the Sanders supporters drifted off into the night, although the more hardcore planned to stay to greet him upon his exit.
Weiss, his umbrella rather more bare than it had been an hour earlier, was among those. He offered his thoughts on why Sanders had garnered so much support.
“He represents a refreshing change in US politics. What Bernie is doing, even before he wins, is he’s broadening the parameter of discussion,” he said.
“Plus,” the balding Weiss said, “I like his hair.”
guardian.co.uk © Guardian News and Media 2015
Watch video of the event below as uploaded to YouTube: