What was expected to be a small boat parade Saturday swelled into a large event at San Diego Bay, where hundreds of vessels turned out to show support for President Donald Trump.

From large yachts to small fishing boats, the vessels began at Shelter Island and streamed past Harbor Island in a colorful display of red, white and blue. American flags, Trump campaign flags, and even cardboard cutouts of Trump himself adorned the crafts as they floated toward the San Diego-Coronado Bridge.

Country music blared from pickup trucks parked at the parade’s starting point, where crowds gathered at the boat launch. Along the harbor, RVs parked and supporters sat in lawn chairs to watch the so-called #trumptilla.

Eric Nyborg, a Mission Bay resident, arrived early and set up camp in the grass. He said it felt good to see other supporters of the same political beliefs, which he feels aren’t represented equally in much of the media.

“There are a lot more people than anybody knows, even in this state, that are Trump supporters,” Nyborg said, gesturing to the crowd at Shelter Island. “This is one example. For a while, I thought I was the only one.”

The event, organized by Carlsbad businessman Nick Garcia, appeared to attract a couple hundred boats and hundreds more supporters who cheered from the sidelines. Garcia, who owns a speargun fishing company called Nitro Guns Co, did not reply to a request for comment.

In an interview with KUSI promoting the event, Garcia said the parade was for “San Diego to show America how to unite.” He invited “everyone” to come out. “All you have to be is an American,” he said.

A common theme among attendees was support for Trump’s re-election campaign, particularly embracing values around building up the economy and protecting jobs.

“The economy came up out of nothing, and now look where we’re at,” said Cindy Ortega-Smith, a Sorrento Valley resident. “I think (Trump is) strong enough that he’ll pull us out of this mess that we’re in.”

The parade was also meant to celebrate Trump’s 74th birthday Saturday.

The boats paraded past downtown along their route, directly across from Waterfront Park, where hundreds of protesters were calling to defund police in support of the Black Lives Matters movement.

Some in the boat parade held signs reading, “Refund the police” and “The silent majority.”

There were no reports of anti-Trump protesters, other than a plane that flew overhead with a banner reading in part, “Dump Trump.”

Clay Jennings, who was observing the parade from the boat launch, said, for him, the pro-Trump event was more about the economy and less about the Black Lives Matter movement down the street.

“What that cop did was wrong,” Jennings said of George Floyd’s death under a police officer’s knee. “I just want to see our country get back to work.”


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