Unofficially, at least several hundred boats turned out Saturday on Lake Gaston for the Trump 2020 Flotilla Parade.
A post shared on the “Trump 2020 Flotilla Parade Lake Gaston” Facebook page suggested the number was as high as 800 or more boats. For perspective, July’s annual Fourth of July Boat Parade on Lake Gaston drew a record-107 boats.
Whatever the number was, aerial photos and the view from the Eaton Ferry Bridge proved the large showing that had been anticipated came to fruition despite a cool, overcast start to the morning.
The parade had two different starting points: Mile Marker 17 near Americamps and Mile Marker 4 near Goat Island. The meet-up was at the bridge, where traffic slowed to a crawl around 10:45 a.m. as the bridge stirred with pedestrians and curious passersby.
The middle section of the bridge was also crowded with onlookers and supporters waving either American-themed flags or flags in support of President Trump.
The waters of the main lake were dotted with boats on both sides of the bridge. Some ventured under the bridge and others remained on the side on which they arrived.
Much like the Fourth of July parade, many boats were decked out with patriotic decorations, and some were practically covered in Trump flags, both red and blue in color. Many boats honked their horns and some of the cars on the bridge did too.
There was plenty of cheerful hollering, some of the patriotic variety and other of the political, making for a festive atmosphere that felt a little like tailgating before a football game.
By 11:30 a.m., most of the boats headed back to whichever direction they came from.
These sort of pro-Trump boat parades have become commonplace all over the country. One near Austin, Texas over the weekend drew a lot of attention when several boats sank due to boat wakes.
Another one took place Sunday up the Roanoke River on Kerr Lake.
Durham couple Earl and Dawn Capps planned to be at both the Lake Gaston and Kerr Lake events.
They watched the parade Saturday from the bridge, waving American flags and a blue Trump flag.
Why were they here?
“Because of my strong beliefs in the Conservative Party,” said Earl Capps, donning a red “Trump 2020” cap. “I want Trump to win the election. I’d like to see him be reelected for four more years.”
“I think it’s pretty cool out here,” Dawn said, “everybody just showing their support for the President.”
Earl Capps added he felt a sense of camaraderie by being there.
“I don’t feel like I’m by myself,” he said.
A 63-year-old woman from Raleigh on the other side of the bridge said she was there to support both President Trump, the person, and the ideals he represents. She wore a shirt that read “Trump 2020, The Sequel: Make the liberals cry again.”
“Lake Gaston was the closest that we could come to be a part of a flotilla,” the woman said. “We have friends in Iowa that posted Facebook video of their flotilla and it was awesome.”
The woman, a poll worker who stressed the importance of voting, was there with her significant other as well as a female friend, 56, a Coloradan of Spanish descent who writes for a small conservative publication in Yadkinville, N.C.
“I love my country,” the Coloradan said. “To come here and see so many people supporting our President - when did it get to be a faux pas for supporting the President of the United States?”
Despite that sentiment, she and her friend said they only experienced a couple of negative reactions from cars that passed by, though they expect a different reception in other parts of the state.