Read Part II here.

Approaching the entrance, the music got louder in volume… until it was at outdoor concert decibels. The white antenna masts of about half a dozen local news trucks in the near distance reminded me of sailing ships at anchorage. Between songs were various pro-Trump information snippets about campaign promises he had kept and the strength of the economy. About every quarter-hour was a repeated PSA saying that the president supported the First Amendment as strongly he did the Second, and that if any protesters disrupted the rally not to touch or harm them in any way, but call for law enforcement to remove them to a secure designated protest area outside the arena. I expected to see protesters at some point, but never did. I inquired of several of the cops present as to the presence of any protesters, with the reply that they had seen one or two but they didn’t really stick around very long. Trump carried this county by some twenty points in 2016 so that made some sense.

 

The TV van anchorage, with masts like ships in port.

Security was present and active, to include undercover officers mingling in the crowd. I won’t go into how I spotted them… but I saw at least four at different times. Inside the arena were metal detectors with TSA agents searching bags very much like an airport screening, with uniformed Secret Service agents wanding people down if they set off the detectors. They were all unerringly polite and the crowd didn’t give them any hassles about being screened.