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What You Need To Know About Bernie Sanders' Campaign Kickoff

Chris Albertine
The press has begun setting up for Bernie Sanders' formal campaign kickoff at Burlington's Waterfront Park. Follow VPR for live coverage beginning at 5 p.m.

Sen. Bernie Sanders is breaking out the Ben & Jerry’s for the formal kickoff of his presidential campaign on Tuesday. There are a lot of moving parts, but here’s what we know for sure:

The Event Will Be At 5 p.m. In Waterfront Park In Burlington On Tuesday, May 26

Updated 10:10 a.m. May 26: The campaign confirmed Tuesday morning that the event will take place in Waterfront Park and not at the rain location (Memorial Auditorium).  The afternoon forecast shows it's expected to be hot and sunny, so it might be a good idea to leave the umbrella at home and bring the sunscreen and water instead.

There Will Be Ice Cream And Music And An Environmentalist

In addition to Sanders himself, his campaign said (in the second sentence of the event announcement, because this is really important) that there will be free Ben & Jerry’s ice cream at the launch. There will also be live music from Mango Jam, a Vermont band that calls Sanders the “unofficial seventh member of the band” on Facebook.

The Burlington Free Press reported Friday that Vermont environmentalist and climate change activist Bill McKibben will speak at the event.

Updated 12:29 p.m. May 26: The Sanders campaign has released a full roster of speakers and performers for today's event. In order of appearance, they are: 

  • Mango Jam, a Burlington-based Zydeco, Cajun and Caribbean band.
  • Jenny Nelson, the master of ceremonies, is a Vermont dairy farmer and former Democratic state representative.
  • Nicole Nelson, a Burlington-based blues and soul singer, will perform “God Bless America.” She appeared this season on NBC’s “The Voice.”
  • Donna Bailey is executive director of the Addison County Parent/Child Center.*
  • Bill McKibben, an author, educator and environmentalist from Middlebury, Vermont, founded a planet-wide, grassroots climate change movement.
  • Mike O’Day is a Communications Workers of America district vice president and a sixth generation Vermonter.
  • Brenda Torpy is the Champlain Housing Trust chief executive officer and an advocate for affordable housing.*
  • Ben Cohen and Jerry Greenfield were Vermont childhood friends who went on to found Ben & Jerry's ice cream and today are leading a push for campaign finance reform.*
  • * For identification purposes only. No organizational endorsement exists or is implied.  

VPR Will Cover It Live

If you can’t make it to the kickoff event, or if free ice cream and a presidential candidate aren't enough to bring you to Burlington, you can still hear what’s going on. VPR will be broadcasting live from the event on Tuesday at 5 p.m. We’ll also have a live-blog of the event running at this page on Tuesday, and our reporters on Twitter will be sharing updates and photos from the kickoff.

If you miss it and want to listen back afterwards, we’ve got you covered there too. Bookmark this page, and check back after the event for audio of Sanders' announcement, reaction from members of the crowd, political analysts and VPR reporters, photos of the event and much more.

You Can Prep For The Event With Some Archived Audio

We don't want to say that Sanders is a broken record, because he's more of a cassette tape kind of guy:

Listen: Highlights From Bernie Sanders' 1987 Folk Album 

But he's been touching on similar themes — income inequality, education, health care — since his tenure as Burlington's mayor in the 1980s. Here's a little playlist we made of Bernie soundbites over the years:

Hear Bernie Sanders' Political Views (Not) Evolve Over The Decades

This post will be updated with any new details that are confirmed for the event.

Taylor was VPR's digital reporter from 2013 until 2017. After growing up in Vermont, he graduated with at BA in Journalism from Northeastern University in 2013.
Angela Evancie serves as Vermont Public's Senior VP of Content, and was the Director of Engagement Journalism and the Executive Producer of Brave Little State, the station's people-powered journalism project.
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