On the day after President Trump’s rousing visit to The Villages, an estimated 1,250 golf carts – most carrying at least two people – took part in a patriotic-themed parade to show support for the president’s re-election bid against Democratic challenger Joe Biden.
A steady stream of golf carts filed into the parking of the Creekside Care Center in Lake Sumter Landing – across from Barnes & Noble – on Saturday afternoon and just kept coming and coming for quite some time. When the parade finally kicked off around 4 p.m., it took close to an hour for all of the carts to file through Lake Sumter Landing, where a crowd of cheering supporters holding signs and flags were waiting for them.
“Four more years!” rang out from golf cart after golf cart as participants – most of whom were decked out in patriotic attire – held up four fingers and waved to onlookers. Singer Lee Greenwood’s “God Bless the USA” could be heard from several golf cart stereo systems, with some Villagers even singing along to the patriotic song that was played Friday as Trump took the stage at The Villages Polo Fields for a rally where he suggested he might move to Florida’s Friendliest Hometown.
One bystander quoted the president from Thursday night’s debate when he repeatedly said, “Who built the cages, Joe” as golf carts zipped past him. Many participants held signs out the sides of their golf carts showing their allegiance to Trump. And one excited participant pointed at a member of the media and yelled at him: “Listen, you must go vote!”
Villagers for Trump Founder David Gee, whose group put on Saturday’s event, said he wasn’t surprised to see so many supporters of the president taking part in the parade less than 24 hours after Trump held his event in Florida’s Friendliest Hometown.
“President Trump’s visit Friday fired up the great support he mentioned he has had continually from The Villages,” Gee said. “I think he was serious when he said he was going to move here. His base is sold, committed and passionate.”
Village of Lynnhaven resident Nancy Larger, who was holding a “Women for Trump” sign at Lake Sumter Landing, agreed.
“I love what he’s doing for our country,” said the 16-year Navy veteran, who also attended Friday’s rally and said she was quite impressed with Trump’s performance in Thursday night’s debate. “I thought it was amazing. He kept his calm and was very presidential.”
Valerie Murphy, who owns a home in the Village of Santo Domingo and was holding a sign in support of the president, pointed out that she was a huge supporter four years ago when many people said they were voting for Trump simply because they didn’t like his Democratic opponent, Hillary Clinton.
“I said, ‘I am voting for Trump. I don’t care about Hillary. I am for Trump,’” she said.
Meanwhile, Top of the World resident Sylvia Schellin and Village of DeSoto resident Rick Celluro were holding a large Trump 2020 sign that generated plenty of honks and cheers from passing golf carts.
“I’m all Trump,” Schellin said. “I’m here to show my support.”
Celluro called Saturday’s parade “fantastic” and said the president needs all the support he can get before the Nov. 3 election.
“He deserves it,” Celluro said. “He’s the best president, as far as I’m concerned, that we’ve ever had.”
Celluro said he also was impressed with Trump in Thursday night’s debate but not so much with Biden’s performance or that of moderator Kristen Welker.
“Biden lied a lot,” he said. “He wasn’t fair and the moderator leaned toward Biden.”
Meanwhile, after the massive procession of golf carts slowly made their way through Lake Sumter Landing, it was off to Brownwood. Many motorists traveling through The Villages slowed to watch the long line of golf carts as they made their way down the multi-modal paths between the two town squares. Some stopped to film the parade, while others honked and flashed the thumbs-up sign.
As is often the case, Village of Palo Alto resident Stan Swies took on the persona of President Trump in the parade. He rode in the back of a Yesteryear golf cart and was chauffeured by fellow Villagers for Trump member Dick Clapp. Once the procession arrived at Brownwood, a videographer even hopped into the large golf cart to take video of Swies’ every move as he waved to the adoring crowd in Paddock Square.
One of those in the crowd was Pamela Keck, of the Village of Charlotte. She was wearing a specialized American flag and was decked out in a Trump-Pence shirt, a patriotic hat and pants sporting a flag on one leg. She was busy waving a small American flag in her right hand as she talked about her appreciation for the large-scale golf cart parade.
“Oh my gosh, this is wonderful. It’s just so exciting,” she said.
Keck said she also was thrilled to see so many young people supporting the president, including some who had driven by minutes earlier.
“They said, “Yeah Trump 2020, and we’re Millennials,” she said. “It really gave me chills. I’m going to cry by the time this is over.”
Saturday’s parade was one in a long line of many that have been put on by Villagers for Trump. In the past, protesters have lined the parade route but that hasn’t happened lately. During Saturday’s event, several Biden supporters were parked in their sign-laden golf carts near Havana Country Club on Morse Boulevard. But the route to Brownwood didn’t pass them and no other protesters were apparently set up in either town square.