The ‘Red Wave’ roared to life Friday as several hundred members of Villagers for Trump staged a golf cart rally.
Horn-honking, cheering fans of the president and a slate of GOP candidates running in this year’s general election pulled out of the Barnes & Noble parking lot at 5 p.m. and paraded through Lake Sumter Landing, circling Market Square as Cactus Jack & The Cadillacs were cranking up for the nightly entertainment.
But that didn’t stop the Villagers for Trump contingent – 383 golf carts and 800 people strong – from sharing their thoughts on the president’s agenda and waving to fellow supporters who quickly snapped photos or took videos of the long procession of decorated golf carts, most covered in campaign signs backing the different Republican candidates.
Not surprisingly, many showed their support for gubernatorial hopeful Ron DeSantis, who carries the endorsement of the president and their club. The former congressman also was top of mind for many of the participants because he’ll be speaking during a campaign stop at La Hacienda Recreation Center on Saturday at 1 p.m.
Signs supporting U.S. Senate hopeful Gov. Rick Scott, who made a campaign stop in Florida’s Friendliest Hometown in September, also were aplenty, with many participants making it quite clear that they want incumbent Democratic Sen. Bill Nelson out of office. And Attorney General hopeful Ashley Moody, who attended a Republican Federated Women of The Villages meeting Sept. 21 alongside DeSantis’ wife, Casey, had her share of supporters in the parade.
But first and foremost, the parade was about supporting the president – and Villagers for Trump supporters and others in the parade were all too happy to drive home that point.
“I like that he gets things done,” said Mary Hoffman, of the Village of Woodbury, who was in the parade with her husband, Bill. “Trump is big on the big things, like security and safety, immigration and all that. So we’ll forgive him for the little things.”
Bill Lefferts agreed.
“I know Trump is a little eccentric but he’s getting things done for the country He’s doing right for the country,” he said. “That’s what people should be worried about. I think if we had Hillary we’d be at war already, with North Korea or somebody.”
Vina Mangahas, who participated in the parade with many of her fellow members of the Filipino-American Club of The Villages, made it quite clear that her group was “Red” for Trump.
“We believe that America should come first,” she said. “We came from the Philippines, but we came here legally.”
Henrietta Amey, of the Village of Caroline, was busy showing her support from the sidewalk in front of Johnny Rockets alongside her brother, Bob Kloosterman, of the Village of Sabal Chase.
“Trump not being a politician, that’s what I like about him,” said Amey, whose 94-yer-old husband, Hank, fought under Gen. George Patton in World War II. “He doesn’t have to be a politician. He’s doing better than they ever thought he would. He’s not even taking a salary and he works 24/7. They have a hard time keeping up with him.”
After clearly making a big splash at Market Square, the parade snaked its way to Spanish Springs Town Square, where the horn-honking and shouts of positive Trump messages came back to life.
Many people stopped to wave and even express some of their own views as the carts circled the popular town square where a large crowd was gathering to hear the Sugarbear Band.
Air Force veteran Heidi Hartmann, who lives in Villa San Miguel, was there waiting for them, sporting a customized Trump baseball jersey that summed up her feelings about the president.
“This is really great,” she said of the parade, a huge smile on her face as she showed off her jersey to those driving by.
After making a few passes through Spanish Springs, some of the group headed back to the Barnes & Noble parking lot, where they talked about the success of the parade. Most said they heard plenty of positive comments and agreed to the importance of continuing to push Trump’s agenda for the country and for showing support for every GOP candidate running in the fast-approaching election.
“It was awesome,” said Donna Hoak, of the Village of Liberty Park, who serves as chairman of the action committee for Villagers for Trump. “That’s the largest parade we’ve ever had.”
Sue Cianci, of the Village of Charlotte and co-chairman of the group’s action committee, said they probably handed out 400 signs before the event started.
“It’s really an honor that we can get that many people,” she said. “We want a ‘Red Wave’ and we want to win, win, win. We’re not tired of winning!”
This event marked the second Villagers for Trump golf cart parade in recent months. In August, amid scorching heat, the group paraded through both town squares with about 25 golf carts, many decked out in signs and one even sporting a replica of Trump’s trademark hair on its top.
The group also held a similar event this past March that saw 60 carts and close to 120 participants showing their support for the president. And many Republicans still remember the parades in March and October 2016, prior to the election, that featured plenty of signs taking swipes at Hillary Clinton and her comments labeling Trump supporters as “The Deplorables.” During those events, chants of “Lock her up!” filled the air more than once as large contingents of golf carts made their way through The Villages.
On the other side of the coin, The Villages Democratic Club held its own golf cart rally earlier this month to show support for gubernatorial hopeful Andrew Gillum, Nelson and other Democratic candidates seeking office in November. That Oct. 1 event drew close to 250 golf carts and 500 supporters at Lake Sumter Landing, where bystanders waved and took photos as traffic came to a standstill surrounding Market Square.