I received a phone call from my good friend Steve (an ardent Trump supporter) Thursday morning exclaiming that Trump will be in Pennsylvania on Saturday and do I want to go. I quickly looked at the map to see where Johnstown, PA is and said I’m in.
Trump was scheduled to speak at 4:00 pm at the Cambria County War Memorial, home of the immortal ice hockey comedy Slapshot! We quickly downloaded our tickets and were advised to arrive early even though doors were opening at 1:00 pm. I woke up at 4:30 am Saturday morning to begin my trek West. As Steve said, “The Colonialists had it tougher..”
We decided on the Mohegan Sun Pocono as our meeting point and hit the road around 8:00 am. Weather forecasts called for heavy rain all day with 25 mph winds but we would not allow that to deny us. Although we hit a couple pockets of rain the storm never really materialized. (We hypothesized that the DNC had hacked the National Weather Bureau in an effort to deter attendees.) Rolling into Johnstown around noon we knew we were close when we saw a line snaking over the bridge and beyond.
Having no idea on what kind of crowd or attended mood to expect we were overwhelmed by the positive and electric energy. It was like attending a street party. The majority of these people had never had real political fire but were also drawn to attend. They felt like they were being a part of something much bigger. Trump rallies were initially portrayed as creating divisiveness and anger. It is the opposite. This felt like a Woodstock Peace and Love movement. People were in a great mood seeing the groundswell of support. There was no rage, only a true feeling that this country was on its way to healing.
The line into the arena moved quickly and there was more anticipation in this crowd than the kickoff to the Super Bowl. Given the previous week’s release of the Billy Bush tapes, I was very curious to see the gender makeup of the crowd and I think there were actually more women than men. Women for Trump signs everywhere. The release of the tapes had actually galvanized the women there. Amazing.
As we approached 4:00 pm the usual pre-game show of local politicians took the stage but there was no doubting the main event. We were on the floor about 50 feet from the stage and it was such a fun crowd. They especially liked when Steve started cleaning off his Trump sign after dropping it and he said “I’m polishing it like Pennsylvania Steel!” People were definitely psyched to hear that we had taken the ride to give support. I can not imagine Hillary rallies are like this. Does she have rallies? Does anyone go?
When ‘You Can’t Always Get What You Want’ started being pumped through the loudspeakers, we knew it was showtime. Trump’s opening comments ‘Is there anyplace more fun to be than a Trump rally?’ rang true.
The speech was pretty level headed, his main point was that he had had it with what is going on. That was the same reason everyone was there. People have had it. After he branded Hillary a corrupt globalist, chants of ‘Lock her up, lock her up’ reverberated. Very funny actually. The event lasted for about an hour and there was no downtime when he was on stage.
As people filed out, the merchandise sellers were swamped. Plenty of ‘Make America Great Again’ baseball caps, t-shirts scarves etc.. We made our way out of Johnstown underneath a classic low gray cloudy Western Pennsylvania day and as we stopped for gas along the way, I noticed the newspaper headline ‘Voter Registration Surges Ahead of Election’. After what I saw, I don’t think it’s surging because of Hillary.
It’s happening and it’s real.