My Weekend at Bernie's | WisCommunity

My Weekend at Bernie's

Or -- Feel the BRRRRRRRRN!

Nope, this isn't going to be a story about trying to pretend a dead guy is alive -- it's a story about going to see Bernie Sanders.

This morning I set off to Eau Claire from Uppitywis Central to go to the Bernie Sanders Town Meeting. I thought that those of you who have not had the experience might like to see what it's like. It was a day of frustration and exhileration. The drive over was terrifying. I've made the trip from Downsville to Eau Claire a disturbing number of times, but this was the worst trip I've ever taken. The very light snowfall overnight mixed with cold temperatures and one hell of a gusty wind storm to make for terrible driving conditions. The little country road to Eau Claire was slippery and it was often impossible to see anything due to the blowing snow across the prairies. My little car kept getting blown around, and a few times I thought I was going to head off into the ditch. People at the rally told me there were a lot of cars in the ditch on their trips. The trip took almost twice as long as normal, so I arrived somewhat later than I had planned.

I took the footbridge across the river and was greeted by - a gigantic line. I expected a pretty good line, but this was a little more than I expected:


The line went quite a way up the hill on the right - the arena is quite a way to the left.

I've been to Zorn arena many times, and I thought there was no way I was going to get in. I spent about 45 minutes standing in line to get in - quite a few people had arrived hours before me. This was a dedicated group. It was also quite cold, with 30 mile per hour gusts blowing across the river. The line of people was remarkably cheerful and patient. People were handing out flyers for local elections, and selling buttons and T-shirts. Many in the line felt that if the vendors had any sense they would have been selling us $12 cups of coffee and hot chocolate. There was a large contingent of volunteers going up and down the line, telling people what to expect when they hit the security checkpoint.

We finally reached Zorn Arena and I shuffled my pocket contents for entering the security area in the lobby.


Our pocket contents were hand examined and we went through a metal detector - phones and cameras had to be on so they could be checked to be functional. Sadly at this point my old digital camera was only slightly functional as the display screen had cracked and shattered in the cold - apparently it must have already been on the way out.

I was surprised to actually get in and not be bumped off to the overflow room - I understand several hundred had to go to the overflow, but Sanders went there later to meet with those people as well.


The crowd quickly filled in - my understanding is that there were about 3500 people inside the venue, and several hundred in an overflow room with video and audio.


And Andrew Werthman welcomed the crowd.  There was a short thank you as Eleanor Wolfe was brought up to the stage to thank her for  all of the canvassing and organizing she has done. Then Justin Vernon (of local Bon Iver) introduced Bernie Sanders - amazingly this all actually happened ON TIME and was one of the most organized rallies of this type I have ever seen. All in all it was a great day but culminated in my having very sore knees (really not up to 5 hours of standing any more) and being really hungry -

The best part of the day of course was the speech - I'll leave you with that.



April 2, 2016 - 5:35pm