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The Jersey Shore to Rock a Trump Rally

It’s set to be the biggest beach party Wildwood, NJ, has ever seen.

Parking meters are already running in this town on the Jersey shore. The streets are closed, and the temporary population is expanding toward 40,000. It’s set to be the biggest beach party Wildwood, NJ, has ever seen, and former President Donald Trump is waiting in the wings to take the stage tonight at 5 p.m. for a pre-primary MAGA rally with a few of his good friends and campaign tag-a-longs as the summer season officially kicks off a tad earlier to accommodate all the commotion. All that seems to be missing is Annette Funicello and Frankie Avalon.

The festival-like event begins at noon with playlists as diverse as Phantom of the Opera, Kid Rock, and Big and Rich, followed by a slew of surprise guest speakers.

Shuttered businesses have sprung to life, bars and pubs are opening for the infusion of rally-goers, and hotels are sold out with fans of the former president. It’s quite a boon to the local economy, and Wildwood Mayor Ernie Troiano Jr. is beside himself with enthusiasm: “I’m happy he’s coming back. I am happy to be there on the sidelines. It gives our community some exposure.”

One local resident has taken advantage of the campaign visit to open a Trump doodads and souvenir store. “I was on The Apprentice with Donald Trump,” Brian McDowell told a Wildwood news agency. “Donald Trump coming to the Wildwoods the first time in 2020 was amazing. Then to come back again another four years later. It’s like the gift that keeps giving for somebody that was fired from Donald Trump.”

An added caveat for local businesses is that the Travelling Trumpers – vendors who follow the rally routes – are not allowed at the event. Only locally licensed food, fashion, cozies, and bobbleheads souvenir people will be allowed to sell wares before and during the festivities.

As Troiano points out, there is no real economic downfall as with most presidential visits that depend on municipalities to fork over the basic needs of police, fire, and public works. The Trump campaign has prepaid $54,000  for those vital event services – which is already in the town coffers earning interest. It’s all gravy, even for those who can’t take Donald Trump’s bombastic style.

The Trump Derangement Syndrome

Although Wildwood is a heavily conservative enclave, there is always someone who hates Trump enough to take the fun out of any occasion. Lower Township resident Ellen Hotaling is leery of her town’s decision and is not a fan of parking meters, either: “I don’t think that’s fair for us year-rounders,” she said. “Trump’s probably paying a lot of money to be here, so I think they’re getting plenty.”

GettyImages-1621670715 (1) anti-Trump

(Photo by Benjamin Hendren/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images)

Elizabeth Skrabonja, a long-time Wildwood Crest resident, blasted the event in a letter to the Board of Commissioners. “Hosting Donald Trump under the guise of ‘he’s good for business’ speaks volumes of the character of those supporting this event,” she wrote.

The beach town is expecting protesters and Trump fans, and event security is working closely with local law enforcement and the Secret Service on number 45’s detail. Troiano has had calls asking, “How can you do this to our community?” But the wily mayor has a ready answer for concerned or grumpy residents. After weighing the odds, it’s “1,000 to one, pros to cons,” he said.

“I’m not a big fan of what’s happening in this country. I am the kind who looks at the person. I don’t vote for the party,” the mayor mused, adding, “If (President) Joe Biden showed up, I would extend the same welcome.”

The mayor intimated that a handful of residents have asked if it’s safe for children to be in Wildwood with all the MAGA thugs. He assured those concerned residents who believe the spin that Trump supporters are dangerous: “I’m sitting there going, ‘You’ve really got yourself twisted.’ Most of the MAGA people are conservatives. They’re not the rioters. This isn’t Seattle or Portland.”

So, What’s the Problem?

It’s a critical time in the 2024 election. And while Trump has been indicted in four different criminal cases and is currently enduring a salacious hush money trial, this event is scheduled and hosted by a mayor and two city commissioners facing indictments for allegedly defrauding the state’s healthcare system. And the comparisons do play in the media.

Elizabeth Skrabonja hinted at such allegations. Stay with me here; this is a complicated town. Mayor Troiano was ousted from the top spot in 2019. Democrat Pete Byron took his oath in 2020. Then, both Byron and Troiano were indicted in March 2023 on a number of charges. Byron resigned in September and was fined $20,000 for official misconduct, tampering with public records, falsifying or tampering with records, failure to pay tax, and filing a fraudulent return. Somehow, Troiano was the next best option and was reappointed as mayor in 2024.

When Trump takes the stage this evening, there will be a seismic shift in energy pulsating through the town of Wildwood. Maybe he can reinvigorate support for his ally, Troiano, or briefly deflect his trials and tribulations before heading back to the courtroom on May 17. It may even move the needle into the positive range for voters heading to the polls for New Jersey’s June 4 primary date.

Read More From Sarah Cowgill

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