Trump brings the hoopla

President commands McAllen’s attention in first-ever visit

A supporter reacts during a visit by U. S. President Donald Trump at McAllen Miller International Airport on Thursday, Jan. 10, 2019, in McAllen. (Joel Martinez | jmartinez@themonitor.com)

The president’s arrival here resulted in raucous demonstrations, the arrest of several protestors, a gaggle of national media and the appearance of a large baby Trump balloon. But for Lori Nicolaus and others who work on Military Road, there was no other choice than to watch the presidential motorcade on their lunch break.

President Trump’s motorcade closed down parts of 10th Street and Military Road during his three-hour visit to McAllen on Thursday. Those working along the route where protestors and media gathered were trapped and unable to leave, and as a result, traffic in other areas became congested.

Nicolaus, who is from Florida, often travels to McAllen for routine business meetings. She and other neutral spectators stood along a metal barrier across the street from the U.S. Border Patrol station in McAllen, away from the partisan protesters yards away. She just wanted to see the president of the United States drive by.

“I don’t think anything about it, I’m not political,” she said, talking loudly to drawn-out chants. “I think it’s really cool that a president is visiting … I feel very fortunate to be here.”

Hovering over the crowd was Baby Trump with a cellphone in his hand, a now-familiar sight in places where there’s a healthy amount of protests of the president.

Though she doesn’t particularly agree with the president’s policies, she thought the balloon was in poor taste.

“I think as our president he deserves respect,” Nicolaus said. “As a human being he deserves respect.”

Keith Fox, of Oregon, works in the same office as Nicolaus. He was in McAllen in 2008 when then-presidential candidate Barack Obama visited, and has never seen a sitting president in person. Like Nicolaus, he said he doesn’t lean one way or the other politically.

“We’re lucky to be here,” he said. “I think it’s really awesome — simply the fact that a sitting president is here.”

Hours after the motorcade left the area, the roads remained closed for another hour or so while the president visited the border, where he met with members of local and national media.

Among busy traffic off 23rd Street near U.S. Expressway 83, bystanders parked their vehicles on the frontage so they could get a glimpse of Air Force One as it departed McAllen Miller International Airport.