By Brett Houser
Bernie Sander’s figure was hardly visible as his supporters brandished “Feel the Bern” signs at the Renaissance Savery Hotel in Des Moines during Sander’s New Years Eve party.
While celebrating with a presidential candidate is not the typical way to ring in the New Year, two of the hotel’s ballrooms were packed with his supporters.
Although the crowd lacked racial diversity, a variety of people attended, including people in business attire and one young woman with bubblegum pink hair.
Many young people were present, which was expected as Sanders has done a good job rallying younger voters, but people off all ages attended, including families with young children.
Perhaps inspired by the $5 beer and wine, but as the attendees awaited Sander’s entrance, a surge of excitement rushed through the crowd any time a balding, white-haired man entered the room.
Sander’s speech resembled a pep-rally as he stood in front of a wall-sized American flag. His voice was hoarse and he appeared tired, leaning against the podium.
Sanders addressed his main campaign points, and his supporters cheered after each pause as if he just hit a walk-off home run.
He passionately condemned the socioeconomic elite and said that every American should be “entitled” to health care before addressing U.S. incarceration rates.
“Together, we will end the disgrace of the United States having more people in jail than any other country,” Sanders said, as the crowd cheered.
Sanders said that no president could solve the nations problems unless millions of people “stand up and say enough is enough.”
He said that 2016 could be a year that history will long remember.
The partygoers seemed impressed by Sander’s short speech and that he spent his New Years Eve campaigning.
“He is just such a man of the people,” Sanders supporter Mike Gerard said. “His New Year’s Eve party just shows that he is genuine and that he will do his best to make 2016 a year where we can see the change we’ve been hoping for.”
“Any candidate who spends New Years Eve with his supporters and campaigning definitely earns my support,” supporter Eva Jackson said.
As Sanders exited the stage, “Disco Inferno” by The Trammps played and some partygoers sang along with the lyrics “burn, baby, burn.”
One man even started a lackluster “feel the Bern” chant as Sanders met with his supporters.