Large turnout expected for last-minute Bernie Sanders rally in Vallejo

Image 1 of 2

The Bernie Sanders' rally in Vallejo was planned with just a few days' notice given to city officials who learned that an estimated crowd of as many as 18,000 people might be descending on the waterfront Wednesday evening.

Overnight, tents popped up at the Service Club Park on Mare Island Way, along with fencing, recycling and trash containers, and signs warning the public about road closures, bus route changes and potentially crowded ferry service during the event.

Sanders' supporters were thrilled by his visit and said they were "feeling the Bern".

"I'm feeling so much Bern I need to go to the doctor. I don't think antibiotics are going to do it this time," said Matthew Finkelstein, a co-founder of the online group Vallejo For Bernie Sanders.

"This is a dream come true. I can't believe it," said Susan George who also co-founded the grassroots 'Vallejo for Sanders' group. She says early on they had hoped Sanders would come to their city.

"Vallejo was very hard hit of course by its bankruptcy and then following by its financial crisis," George said.

"When you don't have a lot going for you and you've approached that point of despair, it's a fine line between giving up and then having nothing to lose so you might as well fight like the dickens," Finkelstein said.

Whether the Sanders campaign heard their prayers or just happened to have the same thought, his supporters are thrilled that their candidate eschewed larger cities such as San Francisco and Oakland to hold a 7 p.m. rally in the smaller city of 120,000 people.

"It's the first time in my lifetime that I remember a national candidate coming to the City of Vallejo and I think that's great. I think it's good for our city," said Vallejo Mayor Osby Davis.

CIty officials say the Sanders campaign contacted them last week, but didn't confirm the rally until Monday. That meant a rush to prepare the waterfront park. Vallejo police say they are working with the Secret Service, the Vallejo Fire Department and the U.S. Coast Guard to control the area during the event.

The city will shut down Mare Island Way between Florida Street and Maine Street from 2 p.m until 9 p.m. after the rally ends.

At the adjacent Vallejo Ferry Terminal, signs warned commuters about changes to the bus routes and the potential for large crowds during the evening commute.

"I'm going to be working from home tomorrow, cause I'm going to avoid all of this as much as possible," said Ed Morris who commutes daily to San Francisco from Vallejo.

The city does plan to allow food trucks into the area for the crowd, meaning that Bernie could be a boost to business for Odell Williams and his hot dog stand.

"I think its nice that he's coming to Vallejo. Everyone's excited about it," said Williams.

City officials say there will be extra costs for traffic control, cleanup, and staffing but Mayor Davis says those expenses will be reimbursed by Bernie Sanders's campaign so Vallejo will not have to foot the bill.