GUILFORD — Giant Trump flags streamed by, as some 200 cars and trucks displaying GOP campaign signs began their procession on the shoreline in the Back the Blue and Trump Car Parade Saturday.
There was a sense of mounting excitement as cars kept pouring into the commuter lot at 10:30 a.m., with the overflow going into the second lot across the street before the 11 a.m. parade. Participants hugged each other and took selfies, while some passersby honked and shouted their support and trucks on the Interstate 95 overpass blasted loud horns.
The song “I’m Proud to be an American” played at full volume from car speakers.
“I think they’ll know we’re here,” said one participant.
One organizer stood on the bed of a pickup truck and told the enthusiastic group via bull horn: “Today we’re going to show the shoreline that the Republican Party is alive in Connecticut and Donald Trump will be president for four more years.”
She was met with enthusiastic cheers.
Vendors sold all kinds of Trump paraphernalia — from flags, Trump dolls, T-shirts, key rings, MAGA hats and more.
“I’ve got boxing and talking Trump dolls,” boasted vendor Mike Nicille, who also showed off “Women for Trump” shirts.
On a somber note, while the world was waiting for news after President Donald Trump, who tested positive for COVID-19, was admitted to Walter Reed Hospital on Friday, people expressed concern over his illness.
One motorist displayed the message “Get Well Pres. Trump,” spelled out in blue duct tape on the side of her truck. Cathleen Creaser Marsh said her wish for Trump is, “Get well, Mr. President, we need you.”
While standing amid a sea of Trump supporters, Guilford resident Joe Sandella said that he was worried about Trump’s COVID-19 diagnosis and hospitalization.
“I’m hoping everything works out,” the 77-year-old said. “I’m worried about, if he gets sick what happens next.”
Another Trump supporter wished him well and is hopeful for his recovery. Patti Murphy Urban said she believes that Trump has the best medical care and that he will be “fine.”
“It’s just sad. It goes to show you, if the president can get it, anybody can get it,” said the Guilford resident.
The event comes the day after Republican President Donald Trump was taken to Walter Reed National Military Medical Center in Bethesda. Md., after he and wife Melania announced they had tested positive for COVID-19.
In a late Friday letter, Navy Cmdr. Dr. Sean Conley reported that Trump had been treated at the hospital with remdesivir, an antiviral medication, after taking another experimental drug at the White House. He added that Trump is “doing very well” and is “not requiring any supplemental oxygen.”
The White House said Trump was expected to stay at the hospital for “a few days” out of an abundance of caution and that he would continue to work from the hospital’s presidential suite, which is equipped to allow him to keep up his official duties.
At this event, however, many stressed that they came out not because of concern over Trump’s medical condition, but to show their overwhelming support.
“I love this man,” Sandella said.
Equally passionate in his support of Trump is Darren Abbott Jr., age 15, a member of the national Youth for Trump group.
“We love to support our country, support our president, support our law enforcers, because, obviously during these times it’s not great with the whole defunding of the police and the Black Lives Matter movement,” the Morgan High School student said.
While this group backs Trump wholeheartedly, some were dismayed by the current divisiveness in the country.
On the current political climate, “It’s unfortunate that people judge other people based on who they vote for,” said Diane Zorich of Madison, one of the organizers. “When we have Trump or Back the Blue events there’s strength in numbers.”
But it was a different scene as the caravan circled the Guilford Green around 11:15 a.m., greeted by dozens of activists, residents and members of the Guilford Peace Alliance, which holds a demonstration there each week.
“I wanted to have the world know that old ladies can stand up for what is right,” said Susan Leete, a Guilford resident holding a “Black Lives Matter” sign, noting she believed our democracy has been imperiled by the Trump administration. “Senior citizens, whatever you want to call it.”
Cia Mirrone said she was there because she was against white supremacy and wanted to express that. Her mother, Cindy Metrose, said she was there for her daughter.
“My child is Black and I want them to be protected and safe in the United States,” said Metrose.
The two groups shouted slogans at one another — “God Bless America” and the president’s name from the caravan, “Black Lives Matter” predominantly, from the folks on the street. The Trump-supporting vehicles were adorned with flags and other banners; one vehicle wished him a healthy recovery from the coronavirus.
Frank Cimino, a Guilford resident wearing an NRA hat, stood on the street corner and watched the caravan go past. He said the convoy represented the “real American spirit.” Trump, he said, had done more for the country than former Vice President Joe Biden had done in 48 years.
Further down the road, one Trump supporter communicated via her cell phone as she proceeded down the route.
“God loves him and I hope he gets well soon,” said Gloria Nemczuk. “It’s very invigorating to see how many Trump supporters there are. We all know each other — we all support our country.”
New Haven Register reporter Ben Lambert and ShoreLine Times editor Sue Braden contributed to this story.