BRANFORD — With patriotic music wafting through the air, some 500 rallied at Branford Point to show support for President Donald J. Trump ahead of the Nov. 3 election.
As nearly 150 power boats, yachts, day sailers, kayaks and dinghies boats, adorned with Blue Lives Matter, Trump 2020 and American flags, passed by the Branford Point fishing pier, supporters on land blew air horns, shouted support and waved their own flags.
“It went very well,” said Branford resident Todd Petrowski, organizer of the Boaters for Trump and Blue Lives Matter Boat Parade.
The parade came early in the day, before Trump nominated Amy Coney Barrett to the U.S. Supreme Court.
Petrowski, who is not a boat owner, participated on a friend’s vessel, a 27-foot fishing boat.
“I think we had a very good showing and we had plenty of people on land for support, I think it was a very good turnout,” he said.
Police estimate there were about 200 individuals on the pier, while another 250 participated in a car parade.
“The reports that I got back was that it was without incident,” Branford Police Chief John Mulhern. “There were no issues.”
Supporters of presidential candidate Joe Biden who arrived at the event with Biden for President signs were met with taunts — but political conversations also took place.
About half a dozen women from Guilford and Madison gathered on the pier, among the Trump supporters, carrying Connecticut loves Biden and Harris signs.
Madison resident Leah Snyder said vulgar comments were directed at her and other Biden supporters.
“I honestly feel very disgusted by the amount of people that are supporting him and the policies that he supported so far and the people that are yelling at us for exercising our right to peacefully protest and them comparing us to other protesters, it’s completely incorrect,” said Snyder.
Trump supporter Alice Palumbo said she was “not upset” about the half a dozen Biden supporters as they stood on the pier with their signs.
“They have a right to do what they want to, but I have a right to say what I want to, also,” she said.
She noted that she is surprised by the number of people who are supporting Trump in the state of Connecticut.
“It’s such a Democratic state,” she said. “I actually believe there’s a lot of people for Trump, but because there’s so many things that happen if you say that you’re a Trump supporter...I love the police, myself.”
Branford resident Tracey Hawkes was thinking the same thing as she joined the rally.
“I think it’s really exciting,” the 58-year-old Branford resident said. “Traditionally, Connecticut’s a very blue state and I think that to have people come out and support their candidate is really important.”
There were cordial exchanges between Trump and Biden supporters; among topics they discussed were separation of church and state, climate change and positive discourse.
“It was a peaceful conversation,” said Barbara Chupp, of a conversation with a Trump supporter. “He was very reasonable.
“Of the handful of people that we met today…there were two people who actually asked to engage us in conversation,” said the 56-year-old Guilford resident. “I feel like we really, really need more of that,” she added.
David Cruz, who had patriotic music playing, including Whitney Houston’s rendition of “America the Beautiful,” and Bruce Springsteen’s “Born in the U.S.A,” said he was there to support Trump, as well as Blue Lives Matter.
“My brother’s a cop,” he said. “I support all police officers and I think we need to do that.”
Petrowski said this was an important message from the event.
“We wanted to get the point across that the Branford police are a fantastic organization and so is East Haven, so we just wanted to show support for them,” he said. “I think that’s the most important thing…they did a wonderful job.”