Thousands gathered in Prospect Park on Sunday for a Bernie Sanders rally in the Democratic presidential candidate’s hometown borough.
“Welcome to the political revolution,” Sanders said shortly after taking the stage. “You know, when I was a kid growing up in Flatbush, our parents would take us to Prospect Park … but I was never here speaking to 20,000 people.”
The final tally, Sanders’ campaign tweeted, was 28,365, “our largest rally yet.”
Sanders addressed many of the talking points, including differences between himself and Hillary Clinton, that are now familiar to his supporters, on issues including trade policy, the Iraq War, the minimum wage and the environment.
The senator also spoke of the momentum of his campaign, an important point as he rallies to motivate supporters to vote on Tuesday in the state primary. Sanders most recently won Wyoming, but he still trails Clinton in delegates.
The crowd was with him on all of his major campaign points, with Sanders getting especially enthusiastic cheers when he spoke of his support of universal health care.
“Health care is a right of all people, and not a privilege,” he said.
The candidate ended his hourlong speech with an appeal for Tuesday’s primary.
“Let’s have a record-breaking turnout,” Sanders said. “New York State, help lead this country into the political revolution!”
He left the stage with his wife, Jane Sanders, as David Bowie’s “Starman” played.
Several speakers – and one rock band, Grizzly Bear – warmed the crowd before the Vermont senator’s arrival.
As royal blue “A future to believe in” signs waved throughout the crowd, Danny DeVito led attendees in chants of “Bernie! Bernie! Bernie!” before introducing Sanders as “our Obi-Wan.”
Actor Justin Long turned out too, proclaiming, “There is no one challenging the status quo more than Bernie Sanders.”
Brooklyn Councilman Jumaane Williams revved up the crowd with talk of “revolutionary moonshots,” ticking off a list of important American historical moments – the Revoutionary War, women’s suffrage, the Civil Rights movement – before announcing his endorsement of the candidate who often has notions of revolution associated with his campaign.
“I am proud today to endorse the next president of the United States of America, Bernie Sanders,” Williams said to cheers.
Sanders supporters – and the undecided – happily chatted on the grass in the sunny, warm weather hours before Sanders walked to the podium after 4 p.m.
“I’m on the fence,” said Prospect Heights resident Chase Taylor, 31. “I came to hear what he’s all about and learn more. I think a forum like this is a good way to get a sense of how they’d like to portray themselves.”
Taylor and her friend, 30-year-old Jason Romero, arrived at the park at noon.
Romero, who confessed to not voting often, said Sanders has inspired him to participate.
“Trump and Cruz scare me,” the Kensington textile designer said. “This is the first time I’ve felt if I didn’t vote, it will have an impact.”
It’s not the first rally for Windsor Terrace-based photographer Kaz Sakuma. But it’s the first time he had brought his 4-year-old son, Cy, who now points out Sanders when he sees the candidate on TV.
“It’s my neighborhood,” said Sakuma, 50. “I just want to show my support. It’s such an important state – it’s a must-win state.”
Randy Garber, 63, traveled all the way from Boston to see Sanders speak at the rally. The moment, she said, feels “historic.”
“It’s very exciting,” said Garber, an art professor. “He speaks to my generation, it’s like a happening. I want him to continue the momentum.”
A Wednesday Sanders rally in Washington Square Park drew an estimated 27,000 attendees, according to the candidate’s campaign.
Sanders heads to Queens for a rally Monday at Hunter’s Point Park South in Long Island City. Gates open at 5 p.m.