BROOKLYN — Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders took Brooklyn by storm Friday with two rallies.
Sanders grew up in the Midwood section and considers Brooklyn home.
Sanders’ first rally was held right outside the apartment building on East 26th Street, where he lived in as a child. Hundreds lined up for hours to join the rally. His campaign has been referring to its as “Bernie’s Block.” Oscar-nominated actor Mark Ruffalo also spoke at the event, giving Bernie some Hollywood star power.
Later that day, Sanders attended P.S. 197 and James Madison High School. PIX11 News spoke to Thomas Ingram, a classmate who remembers Sanders as a star on Madison’s track team for the Class of 1959.
“It’s hard to believe we might actually have a president here actually went to this school I went to and lived in my neighborhood,” Ingram said.
Loud chants of “Welcome home Bernie” and “Feel the Bern!” could be heard. Although Sanders moved out of Brooklyn 55 years ago, supporters outside said they take great pride that Sanders is from the neighborhood.
“Bernie and I graduated from high school the same year. I also moved out of the neighborhood myself for decades I welcome him back,” one supporter said.
“Bernie is talking for the real people, not for the big money makers," another supporter, Mukti Banerjee from Brooklyn said.
Sanders' strong base of young voters were also out in full force. A 17-year-old student is looking forward to turning 18, just in time to vote in November’s election.
“He went to Madison and I go to Madison right now it’s an honor to support him," the teen said.
“He has energized the youth and I’ve run into some of my former students in this movement,” Lew Friedman, a retired teacher, said.
When Sanders took to the stage, he elicited loud cheers when he said “This is a great community to grow up in I thank you all for coming here!”
Sanders held his second rally at Transmitter Park in Greenpoint. So many people showed up that at least 100 supporters couldn't get in. They waited outside and listened to Sanders speech through the loudspeaker. Sanders only spoke for about 25 minutes, but he electrified the crowd. Actress Susan Sarandon also introduced the presidential hopeful. .
Sanders is in a dogfight with Hillary Clinton and New York has become a key primary state. The two will square off April 14 at a debate being held at the Brooklyn Navy Yard.
Sanders will hold another event Saturday at the Apollo Theater in Harlem. It is open to the public and large crowds are expected. Hillary Clinton spent Friday campaigning in Upstate New York. Both are taking an aggressive push ahead of the primary.