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Trump Campers Arrive Early To Phoenix Rally For Prime Seats And Camaraderie

By Ben Giles
Published: Tuesday, February 18, 2020 - 10:11pm
Updated: Tuesday, February 18, 2020 - 10:20pm

People line up outside Arizona Veterans Memorial Coliseum
Ben Giles/KJZZ
People line up outside Arizona Veterans Memorial Coliseum in Phoenix on Feb. 18, 2020, ahead of a rally for President Donald Trump.

Blake Marnell spent Monday driving from his home in San Diego to Phoenix.

Early Tuesday morning, he was back in his car scoping out the Arizona State Fairgrounds, where President Donald Trump is scheduled to hold a rally Wednesday evening.

“I just kind’ve waited in my car for one other person to show up,” Marnell said. “It just happened to be Mario, who I met at a rally in Albuquerque, so then we had two people. That’s when the line started.”

That was shortly before 8 a.m., roughly 35 hours before the president is scheduled to speak to supporters at Veterans Memorial Coliseum.

Mario Estrada, a fellow Californian, was first in line, beating Marnell by a mere 10 minutes. A Phoenix rally is advantageous for a Trump supporter from California, a state not considered friendly to the president.

“This is my second Trump rally. I came because I like to flex my First Amendment, which is my freedom of expression,” Estrada said. “I wear braids in my hair, heels on my feet. I’m as ostentatious as I am personable, and I like to flex that.”

Estrada and Marnell said they also come for the camaraderie. Seeing Trump speak is great, but so is spending a day or more camped on a sidewalk with fellow Trump supporters.

It makes camping overnight on Phoenix streets worth it, Estrada said.

“We’ve become like a family, and this camaraderie is worth everything. Every travel time, that’s what it’s all about, and it shows the best in America,” he said.

Rambo Trump sign
Ben Giles/KJZZ
Rambo Trump was on a fence along the west side of 19th Avenue across the street from the fairgrounds on Feb. 18, 2020.
Blake Marnell
Ben Giles/KJZZ
San Diego resident Blake Marnell has traveled across the country to attend President Trump's rallies, and arrived more than a day in advance to camp out with fellow Trump supports ahead of the president's Wednesday address.
Marco Estrada
Ben Giles/KJZZ
Marco Estrada of California arrived at 7:45 a.m. the day before President Trump's scheduled Wednesday evening rally to be first in line when the gates to the Arizona State Fairgrounds open.