OLD FORGE — Thousands of supporters lined the streets leading to Mariotti Building Products on Thursday, waiting to welcome President Donald Trump while dwarfing pockets of protesters and Joe Biden backers.
Donning pro-Trump and “Make America Great Again” attire, hundreds of Trump enthusiasts convened along Moosic Road across from the building products business about 2 p.m. — roughly an hour before Trump delivered remarks blasting the former vice president, his 2020 Democratic challenger, from an outdoor stage there.
Some waved American, Trump 2020 and Thin Blue Line flags as the crowd chanted “four more years,” enthusiasm matched by predominantly pro-Trump crowds gathered farther down Moosic Road and along Third Street.
“We want to show the radical left, the liberal Democrats, that we care about America,” said Evan Gedrich of Scranton. “And that Donald Trump cares about America.”
But amid the sea of Trump supporters, some Biden backers carved out space along the presidential motorcade’s route to greet Trump with signs championing his 2020 challenger.
THANK YOU PENNSYLVANIA! #MAGA pic.twitter.com/5BfdRyDD6a
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) August 20, 2020
Among other arguments made by Trump detractors, several accused the president and his administration of attempting to cripple the U.S. Postal Service ahead of the general election, when millions are expected to vote by mail. Political activist Gene Stilp boasted a large sign designed to look like a stamp bearing the slogans “Save the Post Office” and “Cancel Trump.”
Displaying a Biden placard and a sign emblazoned with the phrase “hate has no home here” in several languages, Scranton resident Barb O’Malley said she was moved by late civil rights icon and U.S. Rep. John Lewis, who died in July. Lewis led civil rights marchers who were attacked by police and posse members at the Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma, Alabama, on March 7, 1965, which became known as Bloody Sunday.
“I think it’s important to take a stand,” O’Malley said. “If (Lewis) can walk across the Edmund Pettus Bridge, I can stand on Lonesome Road in Old Forge.”
Rick Cephas, also of Scranton, held a megaphone and a sign reading “no more racism no more violence.”
“I’m just showing that Black lives still matter regardless of who is coming to town,” he said.
Moosic resident Eric Dixon, who waited with Gedrich to welcome Trump, argued the media often misportrays the president’s supporters.
“Here today there’s people from all ages and all different ethnicities that support Trump and would do anything for this country,” Dixon said.
Bangladeshi native Lutfar Rahaman Hemu, now of Delaware County, numbered among the pro-Trump crowd. With the words “Bangladesh for Trump” plastered across the front of his shirt, Hemu called the president a “man of action.”
“He thinks about Americans,” Hemu said, echoing a popular sentiment among Trump supporters. “I believe this is real patriotism, when you are thinking about America and the American people.”
Before leaving Old Forge, Trump stopped at Arcaro & Genell on South Main Street and picked up five trays of pizza — one pepperoni, one sausage, one white and two reds — restaurant Manager Amanda Krappa said.
“It was really awesome,” she said of the president’s impromptu visit. “We were so excited that he came here.”
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