Scores of sea-faring supporters of President Donald Trump packed the Beaufort River Saturday flying blue and red flags reading “All aboard the Trump Train” and “Make America Great Again” in what was described on Facebook as a Trump Boat Parade.
Under sunny skies, vessels ranging from full-sized shrimp boats to small pleasure craft gathered offshore near The Sands beach in Port Royal at the mouth of Battery Creek. Cardboard cutouts of the Commander in Chief graced the bows of some boats, with the majority flying banners and flags in support of the president and his 2020 re-election campaign.
The parade numbered between 250 to 300 boats, according to a rough estimate from Beaufort Water Search and Rescue Skipper Clay Emminger. While his organization had two rescue boats available just in case, Emminger reported no incidents.
Participants cheered, blared boat horns and waived handheld banners as they cruised by onlookers gathered to watch from Henry C. Chambers Waterfront Park in Beaufort, according to videos posted on YouTube and social media afterward.
“It was jubilant,” said one participant, Bruce Harmer of Lady’s Island. “Everybody was in a good mood. Everybody was on the same page.”
Harmer, who voted for Trump in 2016 and supports the president’s re-election bid, met up with friends and was on the water by 10 a.m. in a Donzi 35 offshore fishing boat. As the morning wore on, boats packed the channel. “By noon, it was festive,” he said.
The parade went up the river toward downtown Beaufort, streaming a mix of American flags, MAGA banners and “Blue Lives Matter” signs in support of police. At least one boat sported a white flag with an assault rifle on it that read in capital letters “COME AND TAKE IT.”
The parade resembled flotillas that have assembled across the country in recent months. In May, Trump tweeted in support of his nautical supporters, writing “I will never let you down!”
Labor Day weekend saw boat parades across the nation, including those in waters near San Diego; Erie, Pennsylvania; and Prescott, Wisconsin, according to NPR. At an event that occurred Saturday on Lake Travis near Austin, Texas, the wake generated by the massive crowd of vessels sank five boats that were participating, CNN reported.
S.C. Department of Natural Resources spokesperson David Lucas said DNR officers patrolled the Beaufort River on Saturday, but there were no incidents or boating accidents.
The size of the aquatic rally may be one indicator of the president’s support in the Lowcountry.
President Trump won over Beaufort County voters in 2016, taking 54.66% percent of the vote and beating out his opponent Hillary Clinton by almost 14 percentage points, mirroring his statewide margin of victory, according to results from the Beaufort County Board of Elections.
This time around may be closer.
Two polls of South Carolina voters conducted in late July and early August each showed Trump with a 5 point lead over his Democratic opponent, Joe Biden, according to polling information aggregated by FiveThirtyEight.
Harmer saw no counter-demonstrators at Saturday’s parade and believes Trump will carry Beaufort County again come November.
“I think the voice was louder from the right,” he said.