Packed with boaters over the Labor Day weekend, Trump supporters formed Trump Trains and flotillas showing support for the 45th President of the United States of America. Facebook
Trump train on Lake Barkley in Kentucky (photography by Roberta Friend Rhodes)
The sheer numbers of boats across our nation’s waterways in support of President Donald J. Trump has been astounding. Trump is best when the air is electric and the energy is off the charts. So far this year, the 2020 Presidential campaign has been anything but electric. In fact, it’s been a dud.
COVID-19 has taken away the ability to come together as a country in support of either political party. The DNC held a virtual convention while the RNC focused on limited in-person participation. It’s hard to get fired up with masks, social distancing, and ‘wash your hands’ signs everywhere you turn.
The boat parade campaign was genius. It didn’t originate with Trump organizers, however, they knew a good thing when they saw it. If there’s no way to cheer for your candidate in large, energetic rallies, the next best thing is massive pro-Trump flotillas. The boat parades are recreating Trump rallies with social distancing built in. They are literally expanding their base and adding voters by building on ‘organic energy'.
In western Kentucky, Trump supporters were making waves during the Labor Day holiday weekend. Barkley and Kentucky lakes witnessed a Trumpsters rally cry. The Trumptilla joined like-minded boaters together for an all-out adventure across the beautiful lakes of western Kentucky.
Across the wakes on the lakes with other conservative fans, spectators could witness Trump signage, cardboard cutouts, and Trump masks all on hand to honor the 45th President of the United States. In a ‘bigly’ way, the base rallied behind the president pledging their support and honoring their country.
Local boaters, Melanie Graves Bell and Roberta Friend Rhodes captured photographs and videos of the events over the weekend. It was one of those moments that made one proud to be an American. Rhodes, an amateur photographer, took pictures of Trump trains and lone boats proudly waving the American flag while displaying Trump signs on the Lake Barkley side. Rhodes said on her Facebook post, “We are having fun on Lake Barkley and I love watching them all.”
Melanie Graves Bell and her crew shared Trump rally pictures and videos on the Kentucky Lake side. Trump fans that couldn’t be on the lake were able to see events unfold through Bell’s eyes. Bell made the comment on Facebook that Trump was there, in fact, 'he was in a couple of boats...at the same time.’
Organizers made big plans for the Saturday rally which was part of the Trump 2020-September 5th-Land/Air/Sea event. It was packed with boat parades by sea and float parades by land. There were airplanes flying overhead with banners and skydivers that made a splash down in the water during the boating patriotic party. At the end of the day, there were fireworks displays from Calvert City, Kentucky that could be watched from land or sea.
Rickie Goode played ‘Proud to be an American’ on his boat along with garnishing a cardboard cutout of Trump. The video, shot by Cindy Shoulta, is on the Kentucky Lake side close to the dam. The videographer was standing at ‘the new beach’ at Kentucky Lake. She pans the camera around slowly showing decorated cars, flags, and people standing on the dam, the beach and the grassy slopes. It’s quite a display of patriotism.
The Labor Day boat parades weren’t the first flotillas of the season. The first Trumptillas happened in west Florida in early May. The boat parades were started by MAGA's (Make America Great Again) in south Florida and continued to Florida’s Gulf Coast, Arizona’s Lake Havasu, South Carolina and Southern California. The boat parades were being called Trumptillas and the captains and crews were ‘MAGA’ boaters.
News Channel 8 in south Florida reported the organizers from the coffee shop called Conservative Grounds were on a quest to break the record for the most boats for any one event in the Guinness Book of World Records. The idea was to have the largest boat parade ever recorded. The record holders were out of Malaysia celebrating Malaysia Day with 1,180 boats. Organizers from Clearwater, Florida had 1,600 boats register for the event in early May. Some have predicted over 2,000 boats were in attendance.
According to News Channel 8’s report a public relations person from Guinness responded by saying, “We confirm we have received an application for the title and attempt. We are currently awaiting evidence of review.” The review typically takes 12 - 15 weeks.
Trump organizers have taken note and are in full support of the boat rallies. Florida has the highest number of registered boats in the nation, close to one million. The state of Wisconsin, which held a very successful rally, had the fourth highest registered boats at right around 600,000. Both of these states and many others are highly-contested and considered battle grounds. Some, such as Arizona and Georgia, both holding big pro-Trump rallies are swing states further energizing the crowds and increasing momentum.
With only two months to go, it’s time to rally the troops, flotillas, whatever armory is available for both candidates. Without increasing momentum and taking charge, it’s leaving too much up to fate. The need to find social distancing opportunities to cheer on your candidate is crucial. It will be interesting to see if there’s more tactics planned or unplanned that will ‘make waves’ over the next few months.