More than a thousand people waited in the scorching sun to listen to Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders speak during a rally called, "A Future to Believe In," at Cubberley Community Center in Palo Alto on Wednesday.
A crowd packed the fields at the community center when doors opened at 11:30 a.m. Volunteers said between 2,000 and 3,000 people RSVP'd for the rally, though they expected the number of attendees to be much higher. Sanders was scheduled to speak at 2:30 p.m. (Read "With race tightening, Bernie Sanders rallies supporters during Palo Alto stop")
Susan Kalish, who is retired, drove down from San Francisco with her husband to listen to Sanders talk.
"I'm concerned about the country we're leaving in the hands of Clinton," Kalish said of presidential candidate Hillary Clinton. "We should listen to the millennials because it's their future."
Brianna Griffin, a Stanford University medical student, said her support for Sanders is mostly "ideological."
"It's the ideology behind what we have to fix from the ground up. ... These are conversations we need to be having, and I'm glad Bernie is bringing these into the limelight," Griffin said.
Palo Alto resident Gray Norton said he's a "big supporter" of Sanders and even took the afternoon off from work to be at the rally.
"In this unusual election cycle, people on both sides are feeling disenfranchised. It's time we did something about it," he said. "Bernie is channeling that sense of disenfranchisement into something positive, unlike the other side."
Carrie Schrupp, also of Palo Alto, said Sanders' campaign is similar to then-Senator Barack Obama's bid for the White House.
"It's similar to the Obama election. You know Bernie has the best interest of everyone deep in his heart," she said. "I like when he admits when he's wrong."
"When I hear him speak, he actually sounds like a real person," added 23-year-old Palo Alto resident Lucas Fodor. "For example, he's the only one taking climate change even remotely seriously."
San Francisco resident Julie Minoff said she feels women over the age of 50 who are voting for Sanders "don't get as much representation in the media as they deserve."
"I'm not voting for Hillary just because I have the same genitalia as her," Minoff said. "She's a hawk who's in bed with Wall Street. Even if I have to vote for her, I still stand by Bernie's ideas.
"I've been voting for the lesser of two evils all my life, and I feel like this is the first time I could vote as left as I want to vote," she added.
Hayward resident and Sanders volunteer Silvia Brandon-Perez said Sanders is everything she's ever dreamed about.
"He has integrity. When do we ever see that in a politician?" said Brandon-Perez, 67, who was sporting a black T-shirt with a graphic of Sanders riding a unicorn and the words, "Bernie Sanders is Magical," written below.
Jake Warga, of Palo Alto, said he likes Sanders' positions on education, immigration and the economy, but questioned why the rally wasn't held at Stanford University instead.
"I think that's his target voter demographic," Warga said.
Even non-Sanders supporters turned out for the rally, including Bob Wachs, who called the 2016 presidential election "fascinating."
"The Bernie phenomenon would be a major story in that he is a self-described socialist, but it's been eclipsed by the Trump story," he said, referring to Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump.
A rally attendee who wanted to stay anonymous said he was there just to observe.
"Bernie is in the lead as far as aligning with my ideology, but I'm still on the fence," he said.
While the crowd waited for Sanders to take the podium, many mingled with each other and took selfies and photos, all while trying to keep cool from the burning sun.
Attendees held signs that read "A Future to Believe In," and wore buttons with sayings like "Babes for Bernie" and "Bernie 2016." One rallygoer donned a Sanders costume complete with a grey wig and fake rim glasses.
Vendors traveling the Sanders rally circuit were selling Sanders gear, including colorful T-shirts, hats and buttons with slogans like "Feel the Bern," "Bernie Viva la Revolucion," "Heisenbern," and "Birdie 2016," in the parking lot of Cubberley.
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Editorial Interns Eric He and Ian Malone contributed to this story