Holland Sentinel, March 28, 2019
GRAND RAPIDS — Thousands of die-hard President Donald Trump fans crowded downtown Grand Rapids on Thursday, March 28, for Trump’s re-election rally at Van Andel Arena.
People in trademark red “Make America Great Again” hats were seen lining up early in the morning outside Van Andel. The line stretched just short of the intersection of Fulton Street and Ionia Avenue at 9 a.m., and people continued lining up by the thousands until doors of the arena opened at 4 p.m.
This will be Trump’s 18th rally in Michigan and his sixth in the Grand Rapids area since he began his campaign for president in June 2015, according to The Detroit News.
“You’re around thousands of people, you feel very welcome,” said Teresa Weir, 54, as she waited in line outside. “It’s not divided, like our country is, it just feels nice. I just love being in these groups, it feels like you’re part of a family.”
Teresa and her husband, Robert Weir, came to Grand Rapids for Trump’s re-election rally from their home in Joliet, Ill. The Thursday Trump rally was the second one they have attended.
Robert Weir, 52, said he appreciates what Trump has done for veterans compared to past presidents. He served 21 years in the Air Force.
Past presidents “abandoned” veterans, he said. There are some things Trump ought to pull back on, Weir said, but overall he agrees with most things the president has done.
Another rally attendee, Julie George, from Ionia County, said she “can not find anything she is disappointed with” about the president.
“I agree with everything,” said George, 52. “I’m pretty proud to be here.”
The City of Grand Rapids estimated the rally would draw 10,000-12,000 attendees. Roads were closed Thursday because of the congestion downtown.
There was a demonstration planned at Rosa Parks Circle to protest the Trump rally, and the “baby Trump” balloon as well as an inflatable “Trump rat” balloon were on display.
The chairman of Mad Dog PAC, a political action committee, provided the rat balloon.
“The goal is to point out Trump is a rat — we will defeat him in 2020,” said Claude Taylor, who lives in Washington, D.C., but travels to Trump rallies across the country to help organize protests.
“It’s always interesting, all kinds of folks will be out tonight,” Taylor said. “It’s all a circus, and honestly, we’re part of the circus.”
One of the protesters was 22-year-old Gabrielle Nunez. The Grand Rapids resident said she has been protesting the president since before he was in office.
“It’s very discouraging to see so many people here (for the rally),” she said. “Trump wants nothing to do with diversity but our country is founded on immigrants.”
Vance Bruder was a part of a small group of protesters out early on Fulton Street. The 27-year-old Grand Rapids resident said there is a level of aggression when Trump comes to Grand Rapids.
“I’m not here to be controversial, but I feel it is my right to protest this,” Bruder said.
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