PROSPECT PARK, New York — Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont drew a record-breaking crowd to Brooklyn's enormous park Sunday as he looks to build momentum ahead of the New York Democratic primary.
Sanders attracted more than 28,300 people on the sunny afternoon, according to the campaign and a production company helping to plan the event. This total just crept higher than the campaign's previous record of 28,000 in Portland, Oregon, in August.
"In case you haven't noticed, there are a lot of people here this afternoon!" Sanders bellowed to cheers as he took the stage after actor Danny DeVito glowingly introduced him.
Mega-rallies have been a staple of Sanders campaign since last summer, but only in the past few weeks has he brought show-of-strength events to New York City.
At the end of March, Sanders drew about 18,000 people to the South Bronx, according to the campaign. Then, last week, more than 27,000 people showed up to hear him at Washington Square Park.
And on Monday — the night before the all-important primary — another large crowd is expected in Long Island City.
Sunday's huge turnout capped a day of several unpublicized campaign events across Manhattan and Brooklyn, including a stroll through Brooklyn Bridge Park and a tour of public housing projects in Brownsville, where Sanders was struck by the lack of proper renovations and construction at New York City Housing Authority buildings.
"A few hours ago, I was in Brownsville here in Brooklyn, ... and what I learned is we have a $17 billion backlog in construction needs," Sanders said in Prospect Park. "We have community centers that are closing down."
As Sanders supporters drifted out of the rally, Bill Bernstein, a photographer by trade and native New Yorker, was nearly speechless.
"I thought it was an amazing moment in history," he told NBC News when asked his reaction to the giant crowd, which doesn't always correspond to votes.
"If he doesn't get the nomination this time," Bernstein said as his son stood by his side, "there are millions of millions of people who heard what he had to say. This is not going to die. This started something."