A crowd of Trump sup­porters gather in the Toledo Express Airport, waiting for Pres­ident Donald J. Trump to arrive. Allison Schuster | Collegian.

On Monday morning we woke up and said to each other “let’s see the Pres­ident today.” 

After learning the leader of the free world was to host a cam­paign rally in Toledo, Ohio, only an hour away from our small college town, we can­celled all evening plans. Despite failing to get approved for both press passes and entry tickets, we took off for the state border. 

The lower Michigan and upper Ohio heartland fea­tured droves of yard signs, bill­boards and murals declaring support for Trump and his vice pres­ident. On the approx­i­mately hour and fifteen minute drive, no property had thrown their hat in the ring for his oppo­sition, former Vice Pres­ident Joe Biden. 

When we took the exit for the Toledo Express Airport, however, we were dumb­founded at the lack of security just one mile away from the rally. Located in the small town of Swanton, Ohio, the single road leading up to the airport where the event was held made for an easy drive. Prior to hosting Trump, the largest event in the Toledo suburb was an annual Corn Festival. 

While swerving around the crowded coach busses bar­reling down the Ohio Turnpike, we saw our first cop car. Less than a minute later the scene changed entirely, revealing the power of a Trump rally to utterly transform a town. 

The shoulder of the street was a mile-long snake of parked cars, many of which flew cam­paign flags. Trump fans were forced to take on the trek from their vehicle to the entrance, along which they were met with people trying to pedal various Trump-themed products. A group of men sat in a tent selling Trump mer­chandise, and a family put up a garage sale of harshly used toys in hopes that Trump sup­porters would stop by. One man had set up a folding chair and an Our Lady of Guadalupe poster for people to view as they passed his car. 

There were police and secret service patrolling the area, but security seemed to be lacking we were never asked to show tickets or any form of iden­ti­fi­cation. The event staff took tem­per­a­tures and passed out free dis­posable masks to guests at the first check­point. These were soon replaced by MAGA cloth masks which were handed to vis­itors fol­lowing the second security check­point. The majority of ral­lyers, however, quickly removed the masks in favor of freedom of breath as the novelty of the MAGA decor wore off. 

Some kept masks on for reasons entirely dif­ferent than health. 

Many Trump sup­porters refused to talk to us and wore a mask, hat, and sun­glasses to totally conceal their identity. 

Reasons for such con­cealment varied: one sup­porter was an attorney who feared he would lose his job if his identity was printed. Another group of young sup­porters said they were members of a college football team and their coaches didn’t permit them to attend the rally.

Most, however, were very proud sup­porters. Despite her age being over 65 and therefore among those con­sidered most at risk of death from COVID-19, Former Wood County Com­mis­sioner Marilyn Baker set up a folding chair at the rally to show her support. Unlike many other attendees who shied away from recog­nition, Baker rattled off a list of her most important policy issues. 

“I’m a big Trump sup­porter. I want to save our democracy,” she said. “I am extremely con­cerned about the people who are pushing the Demo­c­ratic party into socialism. In my opinion this is the most important pres­i­dential election of my life.” 

Baker was joined by a cadre of her friends donning an array of homemade Trump attire. The group mingled with Trump sup­porters in the sur­rounding area and even ran into several people they knew from pre­vious cam­paign events. The con­stant “hellos” and offerings of bottled water high­lighted the friendly cama­raderie between sup­porters, making the group feel almost like family. 

Mostly Mid­western men, women, children, and dogs of all shapes and sizes milled about with whole pizzas and freshly fried funnel cake. On a scale of respectful older gen­tlemen who took off their hats as Air Force One landed to 16-year-old boys who flashed double peace signs and pro­ceeded to ask for our phone numbers fol­lowing our interview, the crowd varied. 

A mix of 80s hits and morale-boosting patriotic tunes blasted throughout the lot. Songs ranging from “Bohemian Rhapsody” and “Tiny Dancer” to “House of the Rising Sun” blared from the speaker system, making con­ver­sation difficult. 

One young sup­porter whose phone was waving in the sud­denly dark sky said he made the trip to the rally so he could show his support of Trump’s America first attitude. Although not old enough to rep­resent his support through voting, 16-year-old Garrett Swank dis­played himself as a proud sup­porter of the admin­is­tration in his MAGA mask, t‑shirt, and bucket hat — only a few of his spirit items. At home he said he has two addi­tional masks and two flags. 

“I’m rocking a Trump flag off the back of my truck too,” Swank said, eagerly. “And what do I love about Trump? He’s all about the people. He does what the people want to see.” 

Paula Dionyssion, a small business owner whose local family-run restaurant chain boasts six loca­tions, also said it is Trump’s America First policies that attract her. Rudy’s Hot Dog has catered to Tole­doans since 1920, and Dionyssion said the pres­ident fights for small businesses. 

“Why do I like Trump? Because he’s for the American people.”

After she proudly handed us her business card and gen­er­ously offered us a deal for free hot dogs. 

Once the Air Force One was in sight, crowd members who weren’t able to get one of the coveted seats lined up against the fenced-in parking lot erupted with applause and chants. Amid the 4th of July-esque picnic seating of some in the overflow section on the rest of the parking lot, attendees all com­peted in reaching their phone the highest to catch a glimpse of the pres­ident descending the air­plane steps and onto the con­structed stage. 

One thing rang certain in the minds of all those who we spoke to, however, and that is Trump’s chances come November. To sum it up, one Indiana res­ident, Kyle Biggs, per­fectly described the crowd consensus.