Anthony Weiner angered some in his old Forest Hills neighborhood when he skipped their parade yesterday, but the former congressman did not encounter any wrath this morning as he frenetically raced around to greet people and pose for pictures at the Laurelton Memorial Day parade. He even shared a few wisecracks with his entourage of reporters.
“How does a struggling newspaper still get nine reporters to cover me?” a grinning Mr. Weiner, who’s become a media phenomenon since he suddenly announced his mayoral campaign last week, asked a New York Post reporter at one point.
As he waved and shouted, “Hello my name is Anthony Weiner,” one woman cried from her porch, “I know!”
“Everyone knows your face,” she added, referencing the infamous Twitter scandal that led to his political downfall two years ago.
Mr. Weiner then turned to Politicker.
“That was just for you,” he offered. “I got you some copy.”
Mr. Weiner, who said he does not like to march with elected officials, was at the parade’s back end, perpetually chatting with whomever floated near him. He had only the one event in the predominately black southeastern Queens neighborhood on his schedule, eschewing larger parades across the city where his rivals would be marching later in the day.
“I hate for you to think there’s a giant strategic imperative but I had child care issues,” Mr. Weiner told Politicker when asked why he was only attending the one parade. “Give me a month before you say, ‘Okay he left somebody out.’ … I’m not sure it’s being fair to us.”
Mr. Weiner, with a slight sore throat, told Politicker that returning to the campaign trail was like “seeing live pitching” after a long period out, and he seemed to revel in again playing the role of retail politician. He shook hands with passers-by in parked cars and darted up lush lawns and sidewalks to chat about the struggles of the middle class.
At another point during the march, Mr. Weiner began quizzing a 13-year-old named Richard Ezechiels about political trivia, asking him who the vice president is and to name the mayors who preceded Mayor Michael Bloomberg. The boy mostly answered correctly, leading Mr. Weiner to tell him how, in the third grade, he lost a class election while running on a platform of abolishing fish sticks from the cafeteria.
“So I gave this great speech–or at least I thought it was–I remembered all the words to it and I got it just right,” he told the boy. His opponent “gave what I thought was a terrible speech. It was disorganized; it didn’t have any ideas. But when he was done, he takes out his backpack … and tore off lollipops and put them on their desks. I got squashed. I became big devotee of campaign finance reform that day.”
There were only a couple minor hiccups. While standing in front of a group bearing a giant yellow “Federated Blocks of Laurelton” banner, Mr. Weiner briefly, and accidentally, held up an entire section of the parade.
“Could you walk a little faster,” one of the banner carriers groused, the gap between herself and the rest of the parade widening by the second.
For their part, two of Mr. Weiner’s less-sensational rivals also attended the parade: City Comptroller John Liu and former Comptroller Bill Thompson. Mr. Liu slipped into the parade near Mr. Weiner and began shaking hands with the marchers. As Mr. Liu made his way toward his new rival, Mr. Weiner jokingly asked him, “What am I, chopped liver?”
Mr. Liu finally shook his hand. As Mr. Liu took his place behind the “Federated Blocks of Laurelton” banner, we asked him what he thought about Mr. Weiner showing up at the Memorial Day parade.
“Happy Memorial Day,” Mr. Liu said, ending the conversation there.