RED, WHITE AND BERN: The sleepy town of Warren, Vt., welcomed a favorite son at its Fourth of July parade Monday, when presidential candidate Bernie Sanders showed up unexpectedly.
With 120 guests taking in all the red, white and blue festivities from the expansive lawn of her home there, Monika Tilley, a fashion industry pillar, watched closely as the unofficial guest of honor arrived. “The parade started at 10 [a.m.], and five minutes before all access to the town is closed to vehicle. Everyone was walking into town. Two beige SUVs came through the covered bridge, looking very strange and “not at all Vermont-ish,” Tilley said. “Before you knew it, he emerged and people went crazy. He more or less started the parade before the military man and the canon.”
Tilley, who has welcomed 100-plus friends and neighbors to her annual Fourth of July bash since 1974, was bowled over. As Sanders marched past the 9,000 people who lined leafy Main Street, there was “a wave of voices and applause, people were chanting ‘Bern-ie, Bern-ie!’ The amount of emotional support here was unbelievable,” Tilley said. “It’s not as if he is a politician or a celebrity. He is like part of the people. They are not impressed with him as a celebrity or the fact that he is running for president. They genuinely like him. It’s quite a different thing.”
Sanders, a former mayor of Burlington, Vt., was known to buzz by the parade when he was more widely known as “the humble state senator” than as Hillary Clinton’s presidential opponent, Tilley said. In a robin’s egg blue-colored polo shirt and a khaki baseball cap, the politician was affable as ever, graciously greeting well-wishers, and stopping to shake hands. He was also “very well-protected” with security, Tilley said. Sanders didn’t make it up the hill to mingle with her Independence Day guests, who roam the lawn and linger over coffee, orange juice, Champagne and “whatever goes with it,” she said.
But his presence was pitch perfect, according to Tilley. “It was spontaneous and very nice of him to come to this little village of 1,600. It’s rather nice that he did make the effort. Warren is certainly not along the campaign route. But at the town meeting, we voted for him,” she said.