Thursday, June 20, 2019

Night before the Trump Rally

The night before Trumps Orlando Rally to announce his candidacy for president, Pam Schwartz and I went down to the Amway Arena to see the Trump fans who were camping out to keep their place at the front of the line to get into the arena. Pam wanted to do some pop up oral histories and of course I wanted to get a sketch. We approached the arena from downtown and didn't see any crow so we then circled the arena clockwise. We finally discovered people waiting on the North West corner  across the street from the Federal Courthouse.

Tents were set up on sidewalks. It had rained hard that afternoon so these rebid supporters had been well soaked. Pam had talked to one group who had walked down the street in Paramour and stripped in the street so they could dry their clothes in a launder-mat. Surviving the daily rain storms seemed to build a bond between the red hatted supporters.

TV News trucks also made sure they had parking close to the arena. Periodically someone would walk up and down the street with a banner of flag waving. These red white and blue displays resulted in whoops and hollers from the crowd who had been sitting in the heat and humidity all day. One banner read, "Hispanics for Trump" and of course "Trump 2020." One supporter seemed to feel that the right leaning crowd was misunderstood. The liberals he pointed out where the one who would be throwing out F bombs when the debates got heated. He stressed that he firmly believed that Christian values were the building blocks on which this country was built. Fear of immigrants invading our country seemed to be on everyone's mind. He felt that if folks just sat down and talked together then they might achieve something better than just shouting at each other. I agree that communication is key.

The group at the very front of the line was well lubricated with beer and pot. They were feeling no pain on their long vigil towards hearing the Donald speak in person. Abortion was on their minds. Children were being murdered. A woman needed to bring a child into this world no matter what. When asked about the possibility of rape or incest, the idea was dismissed. "That happens so rarely." One guy however started to waver and his opinion softened a bit. A car honked in the background and supporters shouted.

I wondered how many people might end up in this line that was forming to get into the arena. Trump claimed that over 100,000 people wanted to get tickets, but the Arena only holds 20,000 people. A grassy field was set up beside the arena for any run over crowd. Jumbo trons were set up to broadcast the speech from inside the arena live to any overflow crowd. Trump has less than a 20% approval rating in Orlando, so I doubt many locals will be in that crowd.

Someone shouted my name as I was sketching. A husband and wife stopped on their bicycles to greet me. I had sketched her years ago since she was once a roller derby athlete. She said, "You are the only person I could imagine who might be out here sketching the night before a Trump Rally."

Prints are available for each sketch for $250 and many originals can be purchased for $400. White museum grade shadow box frames are $100 more. You can e-mail Thor at

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