Trucks and cars carrying what organizers said were thousands of supporters of President Donald Trump cruised across the South Shore on Sunday to mobilize support for Trump’s reelection.
The rolling rally — which included a parade of vehicles sporting American flags and Trump campaign flags — began at the Long Island Rail Road station in Seaford and picked up additional supporters along Sunrise Highway as it rumbled some 80 miles east to Montauk.
"We do this with class, we do this with pride, because we’re proud of the country," said organizer Shawn Farash, 29, a salesperson and podcaster from West Babylon. "We’re proud of the president. We’re proud of what the country stands for."
Sunday’s event — dubbed "MAGA-Gras" — is the sixth pro-Trump event Farash has organized in recent weeks. Other events included an Oct. 4 caravan from Ronkonkoma to Trump Tower in Manhattan to pray for the president after he became infected with the coronavirus following a largely maskless gathering for Supreme Court nominee Amy Coney Barrett at the White House. Sunday’s rally, like other events organized by Farash, also collected canned and nonperishable food for the needy.
The caravan passed supporters along Sunrise Highway who waved flags and honked car horns from overpasses and the side of the road.
"I stand beside him, his policies," said Linda Carbone of Manorville, who stood along Sunrise Highway holding signs with other Trump supporters. "Not too many people — especially women — like his attitude or his ego. But you have to have that to be president.
"You can’t be on the sidelines and having somebody else do your dirty work," added Carbone, 64. "I think he’s going to get a lot more done in four years. I am floored (at the turnout)" at the rally.
The caravan encountered small groups of counterprotesters in East Hampton, where the potential for trouble bubbled up after a Trump supporter on a motorcycle grabbed a rainbow flag that said 'Resist' from Tara McManus, 27, of East Hampton. But tensions eased after Trump supporter Stephen Field, 55, retrieved the flag for McManus.
"She has as much right to be here as I do," said Field, of East Hampton, who described himself as a libertarian who believes Trump will do a better job of protecting freedoms.
McManus said she didn’t come to Sunday’s counterprotest to change Trump supporters’ minds."I’m here to show that Trump represents racism, sexism and xenophobia," she said.
Delana Santiago, 23, of Brooklyn, said she joined the caravan because she fears for the future of the nation.
"I wanted to come show my support for the president," said Santiago as she stood along Sunrise Highway clutching a pro-Trump sign before the caravan headed east. "I think he needs to see people like me, that we are waking up."
Few of the participants in Sunday’s Trump caravan wore masks, but Doug Parchment of East Northport did sport a bathrobe and a cutout of former Vice President Joe Biden’s face.
"I’m here actually to tell people we can have a mass gathering," said Parchment, 64. "We can have fun. We don’t have any problems. We can enjoy each other even though we are here for a cause. We want to show that when thousands of people gather together it can be peaceful. It can unite."
Trump received 48.6% of the votes on Long Island in 2016, including a majority in Suffolk County, which backed President Barack Obama in 2008 and 2012. Trump won 52.5% of the Suffolk vote in 2016 and 45.9% of the vote in Nassau County.
With just three weeks to go before Election Day on Nov. 3, Trump is trailing former Vice President Joe Biden in the polls. Farash said Trump will exceed expectations just as he did in 2016.
"There is absolutely no way those polls are accurate," Farash said.