Anti-Trump protesters across the street from the Alaska Airlines Center in Anchorage wave signs at people departing the Save America Rally on Saturday. (Mark Sabbatini / Juneau Empire)

Random bits of weirdness from a weekend at the Trump rally in Anchorage

A yuge collection.

To drink in just how weird a weekend of celebrity politicking in the Last Frontier can be, consider the adrenaline-infused adventures of Bema Coffee Roasters.

It was one of only two food trucks feeding the 5,000 (or so) standing outside the Save America Rally in Anchorage for nearly seven hours on Saturday morning, and the only one selling coffee-related consumables. Which ensured a yuge line throughout the day for the two owners inside making $5 8-ounce and $7 12-ounce. lattes (yet no regular cup of joes for a crowd of ordinary Joes).

But calling it their biggliest day ever wasn’t exactly about making Americanos great again.

“Since we’ve only been open two weeks, yes,” said co-owner Phyllis Priest.

[Trump stumps in Alaska]

One might think its takes a trump card to get approved as an official vendor for such rallies, but that’s an alternative fact. The owners merely responded to a social media post stating food vendors were being sought for a weekend event at the Alaska Airlines Center on the University of Alaska Anchorage campus.

“We didn’t even know what it was for,” Priest said.

A few other people reacted to the ad, but none of them actually showed up, she said. And it wasn’t because of an exorbitant fee or being subject to strip-search Secret Service scrutiny.

“They just told us to show up.” Priest said.

Phyllis Priest, co-owner of Bema Coffee Roasters, takes an order from a customer following the Save America rally Saturday. The food truck was one of only two at the event and the only one selling coffee drinks, ensuring a long line during most of the day. (Mark Sabbatini / Juneau Empire)

Phyllis Priest, co-owner of Bema Coffee Roasters, takes an order from a customer following the Save America rally Saturday. The food truck was one of only two at the event and the only one selling coffee drinks, ensuring a long line during most of the day. (Mark Sabbatini / Juneau Empire)

•••• —

Getting a much later start to the rowdy rally were about a dozen protesters across the street from the food truck as the rally came to an end at about 6 p.m., their only encounter with the fairly small percentage of rally-goers who took that exit route.

The small group waving “not my Cheeto” and similar signs were nowhere to be seen during the morning and midday line-waiting hours when the red hats would have been a captive audience.

“We got here at about 3, 3:30 p.m. when the other protest got out,” said Jazz Brown, an Eagle River resident who took part in Anchorage’s version of nationwide pro-abortion rights demonstrations during the day. “That’s why the signs are reversible.”

While far more people were at the earlier protest, Brown said she didn’t arrive with her fellow anti-Trump demonstrators as a group.

“We all thought we’d be the only ones here because there was nothing official,” she said.

’Their presence provoked some mood-modifying (and/or righteous) wrath from some of the thrilled thousands emerging from the arena, although the various mumbled and shouted exchange of profane political discourse wasn’t fired up enough to prevent nearby police from their traffic-directing duties.

•••• —

A larger scale protest occurred before the rally when numerous UAA students and staff complained to Chancellor Sean Parnell about allowing the event on campus. But Parnell, a former Republican governor endorsed by Trump, stated in an all-campus letter preventing the rally would be illegal.

“The university must review all facilities-use requests objectively with freedom of speech and other legal considerations at the forefront of decision making,” Parnell stated. “This legal and ethical obligation is one of the many policies that safeguard freedom of expression on campus, an important aspect of UAA’s mission.”

“As a publicly funded university, it would be both illegal and unconstitutional to prevent a group from leasing university facilities based on speech that may occur in the facility or speech that we disagree with. Some exceptions to this First Amendment right do exist, but none of these exceptions apply in this case.”

•••• —

In the follow-up category for news media: Trump’s Save America PAC signed a lease agreement for $53,081 to use the Alaska Airlines Center. The money was not paid upfront, according to a university spokesperson. Trump-affiliated campaign and other event entities have a lengthy list of still-unpaid bills across the country.

•••• —

After interviewing hundreds of people, the Juneau Empire can confirm at least two local residents were at the rally. However, the couple sitting in first class on a return flight Sunday afternoon declined to comment.

Perhaps not-unrelated news item read on the flight to Anchorage: “Trust in news collapses to historic low” as “just 5% of Republicans said they had ’a great deal or quite a lot of confidence’ in newspapers,” according to Axios.

[Entering the political arena: MAGA fish and Front Row Joes ahead of the Trump rally]

•••• —

Another pre-rally hot headline on Friday: “‘Alaska Is Ours!’ Billboards Appear in Russia After Threat to Reclaim State” Some blogs/commenters speculated Trump’s visit was to give The Last Frontier back to Russia.

•••• —

News tip from an innkeeper from personal experience when Obama came to town: Pretend to be a homeless person harmlessly hanging out in the median strip at Minnesota and Spenard. Get great pictures of the motorcade as it drives past.

•••• —

Not only could people skip the hours-long waiting line for free admission to the rally by signing up as volunteers on the spot, they got free donuts as well. (Mark Sabbatini / Juneau Empire)

Not only could people skip the hours-long waiting line for free admission to the rally by signing up as volunteers on the spot, they got free donuts as well. (Mark Sabbatini / Juneau Empire)

Best super-secret tip to skip the hours-long line to get into the arena (maybe): Sign up on-the-spot as a volunteer, which was allowed despite Secret Service protocols. The only hitch is perhaps not ending up where (as in outdoors) or with whom you want.

When one person told she’d be in “Zone 7” asked why she couldn’t be with her friend in Zone 5, a coordinator in a large cowboy hat tersely replied “what can I say? We need people in Zone 7.”

“Zone 7 is press,” he said. “It’s pretty good one.”

When asked what made it a choice assignment the coordinator said he’s forbidden from giving his name. Shortly after volunteers in that zone were also told they were forbidden from talking to the press.

•••• —

Tip for spotting fake news folks: Who’s doing “YMCA” on the media platform along with the crowd before Trump comes out.

Another: Who does Mike Lindell make a beeline for when he somehow finds his way onto the media platform. Fortunately for them, nobody else seemed interested in encroaching on their exclusive.

Mike Lindell, a political and political celebrity, gives an “exclusive” interview to OAN after somehow climbing onto the media riser inside the Alaska Airlines Center just before the start of Saturday’s rally. (Mark Sabbatini / Juneau Empire)

Mike Lindell, a political and political celebrity, gives an “exclusive” interview to OAN after somehow climbing onto the media riser inside the Alaska Airlines Center just before the start of Saturday’s rally. (Mark Sabbatini / Juneau Empire)

•••• —

Best alternative facts (aka too good to be true) quote, from a guy wearing two Trump caps: “Normally, I wear five or six, but inflation,” said Adam Radogna, an Ohio resident who says he’s missed only two rallies since “Jan. 6,” before ’fessing up he just happened to have a spare and one never knows how that might serve in cool ways at these gatherings.

•••• —

Best “hmmm” answer to the question “if you could ask Trump one question what would it be?”:

Cab driver: “When is he going to give us back the money that was taken from us the past five years?”

Reporter: “The governor and Alaska Legislature determine the PFD.”

Cab driver: “He has a say.”

•••• —

Best “hmmm” question from a ralley-goer to a reporter during the color-soaked dawn as the sun rose above the snow-capped mountains on the horizon:

“Can you imagine a better way to spend a day like this in Alaska?”

•••• —

Cranky crowd control: The media was confined to its playpen from 3 p.m. until the rally was over, meaning any panoramic arena photos shot just before that deadline showed an enormous number of empty seats in the upper rows. As bad timing would have it, that’s exactly when security started directing all of the still-entering attendees to those “cheap seats”which were packed when Trump took the stage more than 90 minutes later.

Yes, the media will indeed show even the upper rows of the “cheap seats” were full inside the Alaska Airlines Center when former President Donald Trump took the stage. (Mark Sabbatini / Juneau Empire)

Yes, the media will indeed show even the upper rows of the “cheap seats” were full inside the Alaska Airlines Center when former President Donald Trump took the stage. (Mark Sabbatini / Juneau Empire)

•••• —

Yet some of the “least cheap seats” at the arena remained vacant, as all but one of the skyboxes generally used for the well-to-do, special guests and sometimes as press boxes were dark throughout the event (and whatever was happening in the one didn’t seem all that sociable).

•••• —

Highlights from the official rules for media (not quoted directly since the letter is “non-reportable,” so from first-hand experience):

—Set up from 6:30-7:30 a.m. Riser space is first-come, first served.

—7:30-11 a.m.: Security sweep.

—10:30 a.m.: Pick up credentials at media tent outside front entrance.

—11 a.m.: Readmission to arena. Anyone with cameras, computers or other gear not left inside is subject to significant delays as everything is piled on tables in a separate room for a Secret Service security sweep.

—Media allowed to roam inside until 3 p.m., when they are confined to riser until rally is over.

—“Camera throw” is 65 feet.

—“Light color temperature” is 5600 Kelvin.

—Media warned Wi-Fi not available. Two free networks, including the arena’s free public network, end up working for brief sporadic periods.

—After rally ends media has 30 minutes to pack their gear and get out.

Media members exchange photos of themselves while setting up on the riser located at the far end of the floor from the rally stage at the Alaska Airlines Center. (Mark Sabbatini / Juneau Empire)

Media members exchange photos of themselves while setting up on the riser located at the far end of the floor from the rally stage at the Alaska Airlines Center. (Mark Sabbatini / Juneau Empire)

•••• —

Highlights from the unofficial rules:

—Do NOT drift away from your platform space into the line-of-sight of other cameras so you can check stuff on your phone (speaking as the vocal victim, not villain).

—Do NOT take photos of the Secret Service doing their security stuff at the entrance (speaking as the villain).

•••• —

While Trump’s calling upon the crowd to heckle the media was as predictable during the rally as claims of election fraud, it was all in proverbial good fun, with no sense of actual threat to those on the riser. Although a camera shop that rents gear did note numerous pieces of rented equipment used at the rally were returned damaged afterward.

•••• —

Highlights from the text messages for ordinary Joes registering for free rally tickets:

“Witness a HISTORIC MOMENT!

Don Jr: My father’s rally is THIS WEEKEND & I hear he has an announcement to make. Show support: bit.ly/*****”

“I have something for you, Mark. Your OWN TRUMP GOLD CARD. This is HISTORIC. Will you claim? Contribute: bit.ly/*****”

“Pres Trump: I don’t ask for much, but this is important. I’m heading to my NEXT RALLY soon & I would appreciate YOUR INPUT. Step up: bit.ly/*****”

“We activated a 1000%-IMPACT for YOU ONLY. We’re giving Pres Trump the updated donor list when he gets off stage. DONATE: http://i.djt.app/zo~SJK9uA

Pres Trump: I’m about to step onto the rally stage. Will you step up? I’ll look for YOUR NAME on the 10X-IMPACT Donor List! Donate: bit.ly/*****”

“Disappointing! The Rally is TONIGHT & Pres Trump noticed you STILL haven’t donated. Is this a mistake? Correct the record: http://i.djt.app/*****”

Don Jr: My father is CRUSHING it on the rally stage! I’m printing the LAST donor list soon.

Will your name be on it? Donate: bit.ly/*****”

“Pres Trump: THANK YOU, AMERICA.

I just stepped off the rally stage! I’m reviewing a printed Donor List on the plane.

10X-IMPACT > http://i.djt.app/*****”

WHERE HAVE YOU BEEN?

Pres Trump’s rally was LAST NIGHT, but we never heard from you. Final chance to claim your 10X-IMPACT. Give HERE: bit.ly/*****”

Pres Trump: NEVER HAPPENED BEFORE! As THE TOP donor, I’ve texted you 3000% more. Do you want to stay on top? Claim 3000% text check: bit.ly/*****”

“Your order has SHIPPED

Your ULTRA MAGA SLIM CAN COOLIES are ready to be claimed. If you don’t step up we won’t offer them again. Give: bit.ly/*****”

•••• —

Headlines from around the world:

— Independent (UK): “Trump goes on transphobic rant at rally in Anchorage”

— The Guardian (UK): “Sarah Palin hits comeback trail with fellow loose cannon Trump as her side”

— News.ru: “’This would not have happened’: Trump gives a bad forecast for Ukraine”

— NewsHub (New Zealand): “Donald Trump says climate change will mean ‘more beachfront property’, drops rare F-bomb during Alaska rally”

— The Hill: “Trump goes after ‘RINO’ Murkowski during Alaska rally”

— Indy100: “Donald Trump riles up crowd by dropping F-bomb at rally”

— Insider: “Trump said he is ‘not allowed’ to say the word ‘vaccine’ while talking about COVID-19 at Alaska rally”

— CNN: “The end of the Trump-Musk bromance”

— Hot Air: “Trump: That ’bullsh*t artist’ Elon Musk told me he voted for me.”

— Anchorage Daily News: “”In Alaska rally, Trump bashes Murkowski and glorifies Palin, Tshibaka — and himself”

— Alaska Beacon: “In Anchorage, Trump favors ‘God, guns and oil,’ plus Tshibaka, Palin and Dunleavy”

— Must Read Alaska: “Donald Trump still has his mojo, and is a man on a mission”

People pass through a U.S. Secret Service security check upon entering the Alaska Airlines Center for Saturday’s rally. The photographer was sent away from the entrance by a rally media official shortly after this picture was taken. (Mark Sabbatini / Juneau Empire)

People pass through a U.S. Secret Service security check upon entering the Alaska Airlines Center for Saturday’s rally. The photographer was sent away from the entrance by a rally media official shortly after this picture was taken. (Mark Sabbatini / Juneau Empire)

•••• —

Highlights from rally reactions on social media and reader comments (all as-written):

— Fairbanks House candidate Kelly Nash repeatedly referring to Trump as “Daddy T” in posts such as one touting the “Daddy T freedom ride to Anchorage.”

— “Only the sermon on the mount can top tonight.”

— “I was amazed when he started naming all these places in AK towards the end, with slight errors in pronunciation.”

— “Other than a couple of malcontents who infiltrated the crowd and and shreiked unintelligbly, it was a great experience to see the President of the United States speak.”

— “It was so nice to hear our President Trump saying how good-looking each of us are, and how each of us should all, each and every one of us appear in the movies. I thought that was very pleasant to hear.”

— “Unfiltered, honest, down to earth. He even drops F-bombs! He’s relatable and totally real.”

— “He took the shirt off their backs” (referring to couple with Trump T-shirts called on stage, which he then “demanded” from them. “Kind of creepy when he suggested they get naky…isn’t that how the orgies start?”

—“I live in Anchorage. We bought tickets to add to the empty seats. Went to the beach instead.”

•Contact reporter Mark Sabbatini at mark.sabbatini@juneauempire.com.

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