A couple of visitors watch preparations Friday afternoon for the Save America Rally scheduled Saturday at the Alaska Airlines Center in Anchorage. (Mark Sabbatini / Juneau Empire)

A couple of visitors watch preparations Friday afternoon for the Save America Rally scheduled Saturday at the Alaska Airlines Center in Anchorage. (Mark Sabbatini / Juneau Empire)

Quiet before the red storm

Arena for Donald Trump rally mostly tranquil, but buzz building 24 hours before speakers take stage

ANCHORAGE — A desolate scene outside the Alaska Airlines Center at 1 p.m. Friday gave no indication that in 24 hours the first speaker is scheduled to take the stage at one of the state’s biggest-name political events ever.

A lone landscaper working outside a secondary entrance — “I’ve got the day off. I’m staying home,” she said when asked about the event — and a few television news employees waiting for a publicist to show them the designated media area were among the few people visible. Inside the arena — past outer doors that were unlocked and an unguarded vacant hallway — a couple of people were sitting in upper row seats watching a handful of workers decorate and set up the already brightly-lit space.

Sitting just inside the outer entrance were Tim and Kim Weeks, who were taking a lunch break before starting to help with the decorating for the Save America Rally on Saturday where former President Donald Trump is scheduled to speak in support of U.S. Senate candidate Kelly Tshibaka, U.S. House candidate Sarah Palin and Gov. Mike Dunleavy. They also were returning that evening to get orientation for volunteering during the event.

“I think it’s our civic duty to volunteer,” Tim Weeks said, adding he heard about the event from a friend who’s helping organize it. “Do we like the fact that (Trump) is coming here? We love it.”

He add: “It’s going to be exciting. I think it’s going to be like a vacation — it’s going to be over too fast.”

If he could ask Trump one question?

“I want to know what he does for fun besides golf,” Tim Weeks said. “Did he get to go fishing while he was in Alaska?”

People going to the rally were able to register for free tickets online, but admission is first-come first-served and the official waiting line period begins at 6 a.m. The doors to the arena open at 11 a.m., with speakers starting at 1 p.m. and Trump scheduled to take the stage at 4 p.m.

The abundance of media folks will be operating on a similarly early schedule, as they’re required to show up between 6:30-7:30 a.m. to place any cameras, laptops and other working gear in the reserved space (again first-come first-served) before getting kicked out until 11 a.m. while security sweeps are conducted. Those failing to place gear early will “face significant delays during re-entry due to enhanced security checks.” And they are confined to the media area from 3 p.m. until after Trump departs, after which they’ve got 30 minutes to “clean up and depart.”

Plenty of Anchorage residents seem unaware of the rally (blissfully so in some cases, given their reactions when told about it), but plenty of buzz was also afoot as evening approached. A bus driver advising a departing passenger about a likely plethora of detours and delays along routes on Saturday said she will be absent from navigating her way around the arena.

“I’m going to get there at midnight, sit down and camp,” she said. When asked if she knows whether that’s allowed she said “I don’t know. I’m going to find out.”

Juneau Empire reporter Mark Sabbatini can be reached at mark.sabbatini@juneauempire.com.

A walkway outside the Alaska Airlines Center in Anchorage is desolate 24 hours before the first speaker is scheduled to speak at 1 p.m. Saturday during the Save America Rally, which is scheduled to feature former President Donald Trump at 4 p.m. Admission to the 5,000-seat arena is first-come first-served, with the official line waiting period beginning at 6 a.m. and the doors opening at 11 a.m. (Mark Sabbatini / Juneau Empire)

A walkway outside the Alaska Airlines Center in Anchorage is desolate 24 hours before the first speaker is scheduled to speak at 1 p.m. Saturday during the Save America Rally, which is scheduled to feature former President Donald Trump at 4 p.m. Admission to the 5,000-seat arena is first-come first-served, with the official line waiting period beginning at 6 a.m. and the doors opening at 11 a.m. (Mark Sabbatini / Juneau Empire)

More in News

(Juneau Empire file photo)
Aurora forecast for the week of Feb. 26

These forecasts are courtesy of the University of Alaska Fairbanks’ Geophysical Institute… Continue reading

(Michael Penn / Juneau Empire file photo)
Police calls for Sunday, Feb. 25, 2024

This report contains public information from law enforcement and public safety agencies.

Mauka Grunenberg looks at live oysters for sale on Aug. 29, 2022, at Sagaya City Market in Anchorage. The oysters came from a farm in Juneau. Oysters, blue mussels and sugar, bull and ribbon kelp are the main products of an Alaska mariculture industry that has expanded greatly in recent years. (Photo by Yereth Rosen/Alaska Beacon)
Alaska’s mariculture industry expands, with big production increases in recent years, report says

While Alaska’s mariculture industry is small by global standards, production of farmed… Continue reading

U.S. Rep. Mary Peltola (center) walks with Alaska Rep. Will Stapp, R-Fairbanks, and Alaska Sen. Lyman Hoffman, D-Bethel, into the Alaska House of Representatives chambers ahead of her annual address to the Alaska Legislature on Monday. (Mark Sabbatini/Juneau Empire)
Peltola celebrates federal intervention in Albertsons, Kroger merger in legislative address

Congresswoman says wins for Alaska’s fisheries and state’s economy occurring through collaboration.

Sen. Shelley Hughes, R-Palmer, speaks in support of Senate concurrence on a version of an education bill passed by the Alaska House last week during a Senate floor discussion on Monday. (Ashlyn O’Hara/Peninsula Clarion)
Senate concurs on House education bill, Dunleavy is skeptical

Dunleavy schedules press conference Tuesday afternoon in Anchorage to discuss the legislation.

A photo by Ben Huff being exhibited as part of his presentation at 6:30 p.m. at the Alaska State Museum. (Photo courtesy of the Alaska State Museum)
Here’s what’s happening for First Friday in March

Both the state and city museums are celebrating 20 years of artistic… Continue reading

Goose Creek Correctional Center is seen in fall. (Photo courtesy of Alaska Department of Corrections)
Alaska prison failed to provide adequate dental care to inmates, state investigator finds

Goose Creek Correctional Center has gone years without a hygienist, forcing patients to wait

Jirdes Winther Baxter chats with Wayne Bertholl during her 100th birthday celebration Saturday at the Juneau Yacht Club. (Mark Sabbatini / Juneau Empire)
Jirdes Winther Baxter, last survivor of 1925 Nome serum run, celebrates 100th birthday in Juneau

Five generations of family, dozens of friends and a coalition of political leaders offer tributes.

The Safeway supermarket in Juneau, seen here Oct. 4, 2023, is among those in Alaska that might be sold if its parent company, Albertsons Companies Inc., merges with Kroger Co., the parent company of Fred Meyer. (Mark Sabbatini / Juneau Empire file photo)
US sues to block merger of grocery giants Kroger and Albertsons, saying it could push prices higher

Eight states, not including Alaska, join lawsuit against parent companies of Fred Meyer and Safeway.

Most Read