Glen Huber, a Trump supporter who went viral after jumping on stage at a rally in Florida, waits for the president's arrival in Cedar Rapids.
Lissandra Villa/BuzzFeed News
CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa — On Tuesday night, more than 24 hours before President Donald Trump was scheduled to hold a rally in eastern Iowa, a crowd of his most die-hard supporters had already started to line up in front of the arena where the president is set to appear.
Most of the people gathered have become regulars at Trump rallies. Some arrived early to make sure they got into the arena; others wanted a good position in the crowd, to better show Trump their appreciation. For many of them, though, the lead up to the event is just as much a part of the experience as the actual rally.
“We’ve made, it seems like, lifelong friendships, from people that we’ve gotten to spend [time with] and hang out,” said Nancy Penberton, 24, a Nebraskan who said this will be her 12th Trump rally.
The connections formed allow these Trump fans to take shifts at the front of the line— grabbing a couple hours’ worth of sleep at a hotel, or running to a car or the bathroom. When a supporter has made their presence known to the group, the rest recognize them and hold their spots.
“We just kind of give each other energy and encouragement, and just being with other supporters who have that positivity really helps, just gets us in the mood for the rally itself,” said Becky Gee, 32, of Ohio. “This is just a whole event, even though we’re just sitting out here, it looks like it would be boring, it’s not. It’s awesome. We love it.”
These friendships sometimes go beyond just the day of events.
“A lot of us are from other states. This is a great way where we can all meet up again and coordinate and see each other,” Benjamin Hirschmann, 21, of Michigan, said, motioning to his friend, Meredith Wynne-Morton, 32, of Illinois. “We met seven months ago in Grand Rapids, and this is the first time I’ve seen her since.”
Wynne-Morton and Hirschmann said they are regularly in touch over social media, and talk about everything from politics to their personal lives.
“We’re bros,” Wynne-Morton said. Hirschmann added some of the Trump supporters have plans to continue hanging out after the rally ends.
Most of the people in the initial line up were not from the area, largely from surrounding states. One man, Gene Huber, who drew attention to himself at Trump’s Melbourne rally earlier this year by jumping on stage, had flown to Iowa from Florida for the event. He told BuzzFeed News that since the Melbourne rally, he has taken to riding around Florida in a “Trumpmobile” whenever the president is the state, and noted that Donald Trump, Jr., had tweeted a picture of the car just before Easter.
The atmosphere was festive in downtown Cedar Rapids, the second largest city in the state. One man wore a Trump banner wrapped around his shoulders and someone had stuck American flags and spelled “Trump” out in party decoration on the side of the building. As police drove by patrolling the area, supporters would motion to them to keep driving on. One man said they had plans to hand out condoms to protestors, asking “them not to procreate.”
And while many of the early birds are from out of state, the bulk of the crowd will be from Iowa, a state that rejected Trump in favor of Texas Senator Ted Cruz in the Republican caucus, before embracing him in the general election. Now that Trump's in office, his fans here continue to be thrilled with him. One Iowa woman told BuzzFeed News she lined up at 3:30 p.m. on Tuesday— a solid 27-and-a-half hours before the event was scheduled to start.
Trump’s Cedar Rapids event is scheduled to begin at 7 p.m. Central on Wednesday.