In this Nov. 7, 2020, photo Jaimie Sekona holds a Trump flag on the steps of the Alaska State Capitol. The former president is scheduled to speak Saturday afternoon at a rally in Anchorage. (Peter Segall / Juneau Empire File)

In this Nov. 7, 2020, photo Jaimie Sekona holds a Trump flag on the steps of the Alaska State Capitol. The former president is scheduled to speak Saturday afternoon at a rally in Anchorage. (Peter Segall / Juneau Empire File)

Still time to trip out for Trump

Plenty of flights and rooms available for weekend rally in Anchorage — but much local interest?

Will Juneau residents making the trip to see Donald Trump in Anchorage on Saturday get to hear him announce he’s running again in 2024? Maybe not, but a “historic moment” announcement is promised.

For locals finding that pitch enticing enough to make last-minute plans, there’s plenty of flights and lodging — even if the rooms are more pricey and distant from the venue than the following weekend.

National headlines in recent days have declared the former president is planning to announce his 2024 candidacy far earlier than many Republican politicos expected, quite possibly this month and maybe even this week. So without over-hyping or underplaying matters, it’s worth noting the message by “Don Jr.” sent at 9:11 a.m. Wednesday to people registering for tickets.

“Witness a HISTORIC MOMENT!” the message trumpets. “My father’s rally is this weekend & I hear he has an announcement to make. Show support.” The message ends with a link to a contributions site.

Numerous local residents declaring themselves Trump supporters and Republican party officials interviewed Wednesday said they‘re not planning to go to the rally for various practical and political reasons. Among the local residents saying they wish they could go is Bradley Johnson, a musician and state employee, who said his budget and concerns about possible COVID-19 restrictions are among the reasons he’ll settle for watching it from here if available.

“I wish I could see the man himself. I would love it,” Johnson said. When asked how he’d spend the visit if flying to Anchorage on Friday he noted “to see the third ‘Lord of the Rings’ I stayed outside overnight and I wasn’t nearly as excited about that as I am about Donald Trump.”

Out-of-towners can easily obtain free tickets online to the Save America Rally scheduled to start at 1 p.m. Saturday at the Alaska Airlines Center on the University of Alaska Anchorage campus. A procession of guest speakers will be featured first, with Trump scheduled to speak at 4 p.m. — when he is expected to speak favorably about U.S. Senate candidate Kelly Tshibaka, U.S. House candidate Sarah Palin and Gov. Mike Dunleavy.

But actually getting into the 5,000-seat-area for the event might not be as easy since admission for free ticket holders is first-come, first-served. The official forming of the line outside begins at 6 a.m. and the doors to the arena open at 11 a.m.

Also, since there appears to be an effort among mischief makers on social media to obtain tickets they have no intention of using — hardly a first for Trump rallies — knowing how many tickets have been requested may offer little help in knowing the size of the crowd that actually shows up.

Items prohibited from the event include, aerosols, alcoholic beverages, appliances, backpacks, roller bags, suitcases, balloons, balls, banners, signs, placards, chairs, coolers, unmanned aircraft, e-cigarettes, explosives of any kind, firearms, glass, lasers, pepper spray, noisemakers, air horns, packages, poles, sticks, selfie-sticks, spray containers, structures, supports for signs, tripods, large umbrellas, weapons and other items that may pose a threat at the discretion of security screeners.

Available tickets to fly from Juneau to Anchorage on Friday and return Sunday are plentiful on multiple flights, with prices that appear in line with surrounding days. Lodging at a variety of comfort levels is also easy to find, although a TripAdvisor search Wednesday for vacancies near the arena shows the closest options are two or more miles away, and the range of prices notably above options for the following weekend.

The least expensive in-town option on TripAdvisor is a budget hotel 2 miles away for $143 a night, but options after that are almost entirely modestly to massively above $300 a night and generally more distant. For true road-trippers, the site does list the rustic Gwin’s Lodge and Roadhouse about 50 miles away in Cooper Landing for $108 a night.

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

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