A few hundred boaters doubling as Donald Trump voters crossed the channel between Lake Erie and Presque Isle Bay on Sunday, honking horns, flying “Keep America Great” flags and waving to dozens of land-based MAGA backers.
In a show of support for Trump’s reelection campaign organized by Austin Detzel, a 19-year-old college sophomore who supports the Republican president, Sunday’s boat parade included vessels of all sizes, including personal watercraft.
“It’s been happening all over the country and, honestly, I thought someone in Erie would have done this by now, but nobody did,” Detzel said. . “With COVID, there’s nothing to do anyway. This looked like fun.”
The Erie rally had a better ending than a similar event on Saturday in Texas, where five boats participating in a parade in support of Trump’s reelection campaign sank on Lake Travis, west of Austin.
Trump’s supporters, who helped him narrowly carry Erie County and the state of Pennsylvania in 2016, didn’t just come by sea. They came by land, too. From the vacant West Kmart Plaza in Millcreek Township, Trump backers rode motorcycles, cars and even semi-tractors through the Erie area to Dobbins Landing.
Republican Brian Shank, a member of Erie County Council, said he was “proud” of the turnout.
“I put a little Facebook post up and now I’ve got tractor-trailers here and motorcycles,” he said. “I’ve never met these people before in my life.
“They’re Americans and they’re tired of our country and the direction it’s going,” Shank continued. “And they’re showing people we’re not the silent majority. We are the majority and we’re going to make some noise. We’re going to get out and vote.”
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Mark Schumacher, 67, wore a shirt bearing Trump’s image underneath his denim button-down. A flag he held had the same image on it. Lorrie Schumacher, his wife, carried an American flag.
“This is the most important election in my lifetime,” Mark Schumacher said. “Everything is on the line. And, fortunately, through the grace of God, we have a candidate who is trying to save this country and has it headed in the right direction. He is impervious to the attacks that they throw against him from the false impeachment, the Russian hoax and now this latest thing that they’re coming up with, his disparagement of professional soldiers. It’s a joke. And we don’t believe a word.”
With Trump supporters on the lake, two events on land attempted to call out the president for his divisive rhetoric.
Local Democratic leaders and candidates spoke to a small crowd and helped register people to vote at an anti-hate event at nearby Liberty Park.
And, at Dobbins Landing, political activist Jasmine Flores and three dozen other demonstrators held signs reading “Black Lives Matter” and “No Trump/Pence. No KKK. No Fascist USA,” among other signs. A few others carried signs in support of former Vice President Joe Biden, the Democratic nominee.
At one point, a small group of Trump backers stood in the median as protesters lined the sidewalk across from them. While one side chanted “Four more years,” the other countered with “No justice, no peace.”
Contact Matthew Rink at [email protected] Follow him on Twitter at @ETNrink.