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Trump supporters plan Jacksonville boat rally for president’s birthday

Boaters plan to meet at Metropolitan Park and cruise down the St. Johns River

File photo from May 16 boat rally
File photo from May 16 boat rally

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – For the second time in a month, Jacksonville’s waterways will be teeming with boats filled with President Trump’s supporters — this time to celebrate the president’s birthday.

The rally, dubbed “Trump’s Birthday Boat Rally,” is scheduled to kick off on Sunday morning, according to a Facebook event flyer. Boaters plan to disembark from Metropolitan Park at 11 a.m. and cruise down the St. Johns River to Fleming Island.

“Rig up those patriotic flags, fuel up the boat, and head out to meet a couple thousand of your fellow Trump supporters for a day on the beautiful St. Johns River,” organizers stated in the flyer.

The boat parade, which coincides with Flag Day, is one of several planned throughout Florida, including Miami, Pensacola and Tampa. It comes nearly a month after hundreds of boaters converged on the Intracoastal Waterway for a May 16 rally, which got a shoutout from the president on Twitter.

“It’s all about patriotism,” organizer Esther Byrd told News4Jax. “We love our country, we get frustrated about the negativity. We do what we can and we wave our flags and sing ‘God Bless America’ together.”

Byrd, who is the wife of State Rep. Cord Byrd, organized the first water rally, which she said exceeded her expectations.

“I definitely expect more than last time,” Byrd said. “If we have 2000 boats out there, I would not be surprised.”

It’s unclear how many people will turn out on Sunday morning. So far, about 1,800 people have RSVP’d to the Facebook event saying they plan to attend and about 6,500 others have expressed interest in going.

“Looking forward to attending such a great event and seeing some great friends,” one user said.

“Please be mindful of the other boaters out on the water also trying to enjoy their weekend,” another added.

The rally comes days after Republican National Committee Chairwoman Ronna McDaniel announced that Jacksonville will host part of the Republican National Convention. The convention will be held in late August at the VyStar Veterans Memorial Arena downtown.

Daniel Henry, chairman of the Duval County Democratic Party, responded to the rally plans with a statement:

"While Trump supporters cruise down our waterways in yachts this weekend to celebrate Trump's birthday, millions of Floridians continue to suffer under an economic recession and health pandemic needless creating by him.

“Now more than ever we will continue our efforts to mobilize voters to reject him at the ballot box this November.”

Though Sunday’s forecast calls for thunderstorms, that isn’t dampening attendees’ spirits. One commenter said that “Florida weather forecasts are 100% Fake News,” while another said the rally "is rain or shine!”


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