Junior Alexa Mathisen attended a Bernie Sanders rally on March 20.

Junior waits in line over five hours to see Bernie Sanders speak at rally

Junior Alexa Mathisen attended a Bernie Sanders rally on March 20.
Alexa Mathisen
Junior Alexa Mathisen attended a Bernie Sanders rally on March 20.

Bernie Sanders is coming back. On May 3 he won the very crucial Indiana primary.

Although he is still behind Hillary Clinton in his number of delegates, he has not dropped out and continues to stay in the race.

As an ardent Bernie supporter I am very thankful for this. I remember when I went to a Bernie Sanders rally in Spokane, Wash., on March 20, when I was at a volleyball tournament.

First of all, I am a big fan of Bernie. I support his democratic socialist ideals and his campaign-funding morals.

Secondly, I knew I’d probably enjoy the experience, regardless of the candidate, as I love the entire process of campaigning and elections.

Considering 10,000 people had already RSVP’d for the event, my grandma, grandpa, dad and I wanted to make sure we got a spot in the room where Bernie was speaking, not stuck outside or in the overflow rooms with TV screens.

So my grandma got in line at 2 p.m.

When she arrived, the line already stretched across a walking bridge onto a grassy park.

When I met my grandma around 4 p.m., I was overwhelmed with pride for Bernie.

Fans hold up their signs in support of Sanders.
Alexa Mathisen
Fans hold up their signs in support of Sanders.

The line stretched on and on, farther than I could see. College students and families were sitting on the grass talking about politics and Bernie, and some were even phone-banking for Bernie while waiting.

There were vendors selling hilarious Bernie apparel and accessories (I bought seven pins) and countless clever homemade signs.

I was amazed by the amount of support for Bernie, a candidate many people (including me) believed never stood a chance only months before.

Now there I stood along with 10,000 other people in line for a candidate whose average campaign donation is $27.

We’d been waiting in line for a couple of hours when a group of about seven pro-life protesters came to preach their opinions on the overpass above where we were standing.

They yelled into megaphones, calling us all “sinners” and “damned to hell” for supporting a candidate who “wants to murder babies.”

Alexa Mathisen
As Mathisen waited in line, pro-life protesters started yelling at the Bernie fans and were eventually escorted away by the police.

Instead of sitting there and taking the criticisms, the crowd started cheers, shouting their praises for Bernie. After about half an hour of loud jeering, the police came and escorted the protesters, still holding their signs depicting baby heads without bodies, off the overpass.

The doors opened around 6:30 p.m., but the line still moved very slowly due to the Secret Service agents conducting thorough security checks.

That meant we didn’t get into the convention center until 7:45 p.m., when we were escorted into a small room with a TV screen – of the overflow rooms, not where he would be speaking.

Very angry that I was going to be unable to see Bernie speak in person, I marched right up to the firemen guarding the door, begging them to let me in.

In desperation I pretended that I had just left to go to the bathroom and had left my stuff.

After numerous consultations, the firemen agreed to let 50 more people in. Only 1,500 people were allowed inside of the 10,000 lined up.

By the time we were in the building, my grandma had to leave because she was tired and left me with my father and grandpa.

My next mission was to get close to Bernie. This also required some work; however, I just thought of it like a concert and worked my way towards the stage, weaving in and out of people and eventually pushing my way to the front.

And then the waiting game began again. Bernie was supposed to come out at 9 p.m. but, we knew that he had already attended three rallies that day in the Washington area and would probably be late.

At around 8:30 p.m., a group of handpicked people of all different races, ethnicities and ages with cute signs marched up to the stage to stand on bleachers.

These people were to stand behind Bernie while he spoke for publicity and press purposes, right in front of the 10 cameras set up in the back of the room.

Music blasted and matching “A Future to Believe In” signs were passed out to the crowd for an hour more, while we waited.

Finally, at 9:37 p.m., he came.

Sanders speaks within Mathisen's direct view.
Alexa Mathisen
Sanders speaks within Mathisen’s direct view.

Immediately the crowd erupted into cheers and applause. I could see him perfectly from where I was standing, and he even turned and waved in my direction.

He spoke for about an hour on his accomplishments and his campaign platform, including his ideas on immigration, LGBTQ+ rights and inclusion, raised minimum wage, equal rights for all races, ethnicities and genders and nationalized healthcare.

I cheered, cried and smiled in complete awe of the senator and his ideals.

I was sad when his speech was over, although I had been standing all day and was exhausted.

All the time and effort had been worth it.

He came down off the stage and started coming to the barriers, and my hand was the second one he shook.

On my way back to my hotel, I saw the street barricaded off by police cars and flares and five black vans with tinted windows speeding away.

And just like that Bernie was off, ready to awe the next group of supporters.

—By Alexa Mathisen 

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