Trump boaters go on pa­rade

Show of sup­port from Craney Is­land to Water­side

Daily Press (Sunday) - - News - By Gary A. Harki

As Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump re­mained in the hos­pi­tal Satur­day for COVID-19 treat­ment, lo­cal sup­port­ers gath­ered for a boat pa­rade on the El­iz­a­beth River.

Boats with Trump flags pa­raded slowly from Craney Is­land to Water­side, the Tide­wa­ter Yacht Ma­rina and back early Satur­day af­ter­noon.

“This is all about Pres­i­dent Trump,” said Cindy Ewing, one of the event’s or­ga­niz­ers. She talked to The Vir­ginian-Pi­lot by phone Fri­day prior to the pa­rade, which was planned well be­fore the pres­i­dent got sick. “I’ve never seen any­thing like this for other rea­sons.”

Ewing said their first El­iz­a­beth River Trump boat pa­rade in June taught them to go slow to keep the wake from en­dan­ger­ing any boats from sink­ing, as they had at a sim­i­lar event in Texas.

“When you’ve got that many peo­ple, it’s like herd­ing cats,” said Brent Good­ing, who par­tic­i­pated in his 38-foot Re­gal Cruiser.

“I think all the peo­ple out there are avid boaters and they have re­spect for the wa­ter and they have re­spect for their fel­low boaters.”

In an in­ter­view Fri­day, Good­ing said many of the boats in the pa­rade were owned by Navy vet­er­ans. Good­ing was a Navy cap­tain him­self.

“Ob­vi­ously there’s a lot of Navy here,” he said. “And all the Navy Folks I know are avid sup­port­ers of the pres­i­dent.”

Ewing said there wasn’t much con­cern about spread­ing the coro­n­avirus be­cause the boats were spread out on the wa­ter and usu­ally, each con­tained one fam­ily or a few close friends. She added that Trump’s in­fec­tion was putting a dif­fer­ent spin, but not a damper, on the pa­rade.

“We are all sad about that and pray­ing very hard for his and the first lady’s re­cov­ery and health,” she said. “It weighs on ev­ery­one’s mind.”

Red and blue “Trump” flags, as well as black and blue thin blue line flags sup­port­ing po­lice flew on boats big and small.

Af­ter a sum­mer of protests against po­lice killings of Black peo­ple and con­stant di­vi­sive­ness over Trump ad­min­is­tra­tion poli­cies on ev­ery­thing from the en­vi­ron­ment to health­care, sup­port­ers have been ac­cused of us­ing flags and gath­er­ings to in­tim­i­date as the elec­tion draws near.

Ewing said it was lu­di­crous to think pa­rade par­tic­i­pants were try­ing to in­tim­i­date any­one.

“We have the free­dom to sup­port the can­di­date of our choice,” she said.

“We’re safety con­scious and law abid­ing.”

The Coast Guard was out on the wa­ter dur­ing the pa­rade; they had a meet­ing to plan things out be­fore­hand.

Char­lie Burke, a for­mer Navy Com­man­der, par­tic­i­pated in the pa­rade. He said choppy seas and high winds early in the day made it dif­fi­cult for some boats to make it to Craney Is­land, and kept the num­ber of par­tic­i­pants down.

Burke said he loves be­ing on the wa­ter and he loves the pres­i­dent. Three times he’s com­pleted the Great Loop — a year-long ex­cur­sion on a con­tin­u­ous wa­ter­way that takes boaters up up the At­lantic In­tra­coastal Wa­ter­way, through the Great Lakes, down to the Gulf of Mex­ico, around the Florida Keys and back.

“I’ll go boat­ing at the drop of a hat, just for the heck of it,” he said in a phone in­ter­view Fri­day. “And this is a good ex­cuse to go boat­ing.”

STEPHEN M. KATZ/STAFF

Colleen Hoff­man and friends show off their life-sized cutout of Don­ald Trump on Satur­day at Nor­folk’s Water­side.

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