Hundreds of supporters are making their way into Hertz Arena, formerly known as Germain Arena. Many supporters sit in outdoor chairs and with canopy tents set up as if they were tailgating for Tampa Bay Buccaneers game.
Cynthia O’Harra is among those supporters outside the arena, determined to be among those lucky thousands who are granted access.
“I was a little concerned,” O’Harra said. “Am I going to get a seat?”
This isn’t her first rally either.
“I went to one in Sarasota when he was running for office,” O’Harra said. “It was just so much fun.”
There was music blasting. Vendors selling products outside the arena. Plenty to keep the crowd entertained as they wait for the doors to open.
The crowd is there in anticipation for President Donald Trump. The event starts at 7 p.m. Trump is expected to campaign for Florida Republican gubernatorial candidate Ron DeSantis during the Make America Great Again rally.
“And with parking at a premium, people are parking here at the outlets and walking down the street to the arena,” Nathan Estes said, who is visiting from Jacksonville.
As Hertz Arena has a maximum capacity of 8,000 people, Estes made a strategic decision to leave Jacksonville early enough to arrive several hours before the rally begins. The drive from Jacksonville to Fort Myers is over five hours.
As the rally falls on Halloween, Estes is protruding his festive spirit, having dressed as the president himself.
“I didn’t realize I was going to be the only one,” Estes said. “I’m kind of a celebrity here.”
Despite the fun, some in the crowd take the perception of the president seriously by saying an attack on Trump is an attack on their values, which is why supporters came in large numbers to support him.
“The mainstream media is just blasting him,” Cynthia O’Harra said. “I think they’re part of the mafia.”