Main Street erupted with cheers as Kal Penn, a well known actor and supporter of Barack Obama, marched in the Homecoming Parade with University Democrats to rally support for his candidate.
Kal Penn is an actor in the “Harold and Kumar” movies, “National Lampoon’s Van Wilder” and the popular television show “House.” He is also an Obama supporter and activist, sharing his enthusiasm with Bloomsburg University students this Homecoming.
Penn offered pictures or autographs to those who would volunteer for the Obama/Biden campaign during these last few days before the election. In the hospital parking lot before the parade began, students grouped around Penn for pictures and to volunteer. He expressed the importance of their help. “I hope you’re not all listening to CNN. It’s a lot closer than they say it is.”
While the parade started, Penn shared a more personal reason for supporting Barack Obama: the well-being of his friends. “All of my friends graduated with huge amounts of debt or they didn’t go at all.” At 31 years old, he still sees this problem. He believes that we need to start encouraging education and eliminating some of the obstacles of getting it. Penn believes that the $4,000 tax credit to help students attend college could make a big difference and is a policy change that we need.
Penn decided to travel to Bloomsburg University’s homecoming because of the university’s location. Bloomsburg is located in a swing county within a swing state. “Lots of students were never registered here,” he said. This year, around 3,000 registrations were filled out, and more people are involved. He wants to make sure that people are fairly registered and able to vote in this election, which is important to the Obama Campaign and himself.
As the parade began, Penn approached those on the sidewalks to ask for their support. He had so much interaction with students that he couldn’t keep up with the University Democrats place in the parade. Those on the ground signed quickly to volunteer and received a picture or autograph from Penn or invited him to parties later on, while those on roof-tops screamed “Kumar, Kumar!” Penn enjoyed the enthusiasm and activity though was less enthused by the “Kumar” calls. “That’s not my name, so I’m a little unresponsive,” he said with a slight smile.
As he walked onto Main Street, the celebrity was greeted by massive amounts of cheers and support. Since his main target was college students, the parade ended here for Penn as he stayed back to engage with the young crowd on this street and educate them on voting and asking for their support and time.
After the parade many followed Penn into the Democratic Office on Main Street in Bloomsburg where Penn encouraged students to help members of the community to get out and vote. “People are giving up their time and money to get to these polls.”
Though Penn is a New Jersey native and fairly familiar with this area of the country, he still finds Bloomsburg to be unique and inspiring. “The area is beautiful!” After meeting many students and local residents even before the parade began, he described the inspiration he saw in the community. “I see lots of hope in the people around here. There is lots of volunteering and mobilizing.” Penn enjoyed his visit and has lots of hope for his candidate in this area.