Thousands of people gathered outside the Big Sandy Superstore Arena in Huntington on Thursday, awaiting President Donald Trump’s arrival for a rally.
The first visitors arrived early Wednesday afternoon. While there were no clear estimates of people waiting outside, the 9,000-seat arena was near capacity minutes before the president’s speech started.
Organizers said people traveled from as far as New York to attend the rally.
Visitors initially were lined up at the arena, with local Republican Party organizers telling them where to stand. But at around 2 p.m., two hours before the arena was to open, people ran toward the doors, forming a large crowd in front of the entrance.
Huntington police officers said they weren’t sure why the crowd mobbed the doors, but there were no injuries reported.
Leslie Robinson, of Roane County, woke up early to make the drive to Huntington. He arrived at the arena early and stood wearing a military uniform in the 80-degree heat.
He said it’s worth it to see the commander-in-chief. Robinson said he had been in and out of the military for more than four decades.
“This gentleman, I think he really wants to do well for our country,” Robinson said of Trump. “I want to support that.”
Celia Hatfield, of Salt Rock, brought her 11-year-old granddaughter, Madison Tooley, to the event. They wore matching denim hats with “USA” written in rhinestones.
“It’s very rare that you get to meet the president,” she said, “especially one that we are all excited about.”
Hatfield said she would be listening closely to Trump’s policies.