Democratic candidate for president Bernie Sanders, an acknowledged Socialist, visited Scott County Park for the Democratic Party’s picnic in the park on Sunday, August 16, 2015.
A 47-year resident of the Quad Cities, I had trouble finding the Whispering Pines Shelter at 18850 270th Street in Eldridge, and Lord only knows what Bernie must have thought as he was being escorted to the venue in a black van (Bernie was at the Iowa State Fair in Des Moines yesterday). It is quite literally out in the middle of nowhere.
I was told by the state trooper directing traffic into the park that there would be nowhere to park my car, so I parked 3 miles away (see photo below), the very first empty spot I saw, which turned out to be a very bad idea. There were parking spots right next to the Whispering Pines shelter. (Isn’t Whispering Pines the name of the town in that spooky TV series? No?) Therefore, I hiked 3 miles to the lodge (or whatever you call it) in 94-degree heat, and, along the way, was chastised by some young girl sitting on a chair in an orange vest under an umbrella, who told me to walk in the grass (easily 4 feet high) next to the blacktopped road “for safety”. [I cannot print here on a wholesome blog what I told her in response.] I did put my thumb out to try to snag a ride with a stranger and a guy with a dog stopped. (The dog was seated on the front seat, where I would have had to sit). I wish I could tell a fun and warm and fuzzy story about how he gave me a ride to the front, 3 miles away, but that didn’t happen. All the other cars that went by were full. (And so it goes.) On the “good news” front, I did get a ride BACK to my small Prius on a yellow school bus, and I was probably the last person to get such a ride as the last bus for Eldridge was leaving at 3:30 p.m. and I was on it. [Just me, one guy who was parked in the opposite direction, and the driver].
My main goal was to score a good picture of Bernie and to take the temperature of the crowd. I visited a Bush (Jeb) rally on Thursday (temperature: tepid), so now it was Bernie’s turn. Rumors from places out East (Bernie is a Senator for Vermont) are that 28,000 people have shown up for his rallies. I can quote Thom Harte, who was in charge of the arrangements for the picnic, (and is often in charge of Democratic politics in the area), that Bernie had nearly 1,000 confirmed attendees. We both feel there were more people inside the shelter in the 94 degree heat who perhaps did not venture out of it to hear Bernie’s speech, which received many roars of approval that could be heard 3 miles away. (Poor Bernie: it was hot enough to fry an egg on the sidewalk; trust me on the 3 miles away comment. I know what I’m talking about there.)
As for me, I’ll read about Bernie’s talking points later. I was there to see if he was really drawing big crowds of enthusiastic supporters. I could hear the crowd roaring its approval from the 3 mile hike I was taking to get my picture of Bernie and considered (briefly) cutting through a very overgrown field that would have taken at least 2 miles off my trek, but also would have given me poison ivy. I also met a candidate who wants to run against Republican Senator Charles “Chuck” Grassley, (hopefully to unseat the old poop.) I’ll write about him later.
I talked to Judith Schwartzbacker from Minnesota (South Powderhorn neighborhood) who held an event for Bernie on July 29th (one of 3,300) and so many people showed up that it had to be moved to a nearby church. (Walker Community Church)
I talked to Clari Lagerstam of Beloit, Wisconsin, who had come in on a bus with others and said, “We have to do something. We CANNOT have Scott Walker get in. He has ruined our state.”I spoke with Arlys Mills of Machesney Park, Illinois (near Rockford) who had also come a long way on a bus to hear Bernie.
Verdict for today: Bernie has some die-hard supporters who are more enthused about his candidacy than they are about Hillary Clinton’s. Temperature: hot. Very hot. Too damn hot for a 3-mile hike through overgrown weeds.