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A ticket does not guarantee you access to Trump's Wildwood rally

A ticket does not guarantee you access to Trump's Wildwood rally


Got a ticket to the Trump rally at the Wildwoods Convention Center next Tuesday?

So do more than 100,000 other people — and tickets are still being requested for a venue that holds about 7,400.

“This is going to be a little bit extreme because of how small the venue is,” Darwin Cooper, 30, of Vineland, said of making the cut and getting inside.

A big fan of President Donald Trump, this will be Cooper’s eighth Trump rally. Most venues are at least twice as big as Wildwood’s, he said.

“The campaign recommends getting to the venue as early as possible because admission is first come, first serve, but there will be two screens outside for those who don’t make it inside to watch the rally,” according to a Trump campaign spokesperson.

The campaign is still telling those interested in attending Jan. 28 to request tickets at

“Some folks stay out overnight (waiting in line), and a majority of folks like myself get there 4:30 a.m. to 5 a.m.,” Cooper said when asked for advice on how to get in the doors.

“Just be prepared to wait outside six to 10 hours,” the real estate investor and house flipper said. “It’s hard on the body. You don’t move until the doors open up. Just imagine — I’m a young guy, and it’s very hard. You’re extremely tired at the end.”

The rally doesn’t start until 7 p.m., but venue doors open promptly at 3 p.m., Cooper said. Doors opened an hour or two early at only one of the rallies he’s attended, and only because it was raining.

U.S. Jeff Van Drew, whose change from Democrat to Republican after voting against impeachment sparked the rally, has said more tickets have been requested for Trump’s Wildwood rally than for any other rally Trump has held.

Some folks will have to park pretty far away, said Cape May County Emergency Management Director Marty Pagliughi.

“They will be parking wherever they can on streets and in private lots that are opened up,” Pagliughi said. “We’re advising people to be prepared to walk.”

He said the city is expecting a crowd as big as the one for Tim McGraw in 2016, estimated at about 35,000.

Pagliughi does not yet know how Trump is getting to town or by what route, he said Tuesday. He’ll find that out just before the event in a meeting with Secret Service.

For now, his office is rounding up resources from other counties and from the State Police and state Office of Homeland Security.

“We’ll be involved in working on the communications plan — all first responders are given assigned channels,” Pagliughi said. “We’ve been requesting traffic barriers from other counties and working closely with law enforcement.”

He said emergency management and Wildwood police have been in touch with other cities that have had rallies.

“We have a pretty good idea what to expect,”Pagliughi said.

Cooper recommends buying a cheap disposable chair to sit in while waiting in line because you have to leave it outside.

Once through security, participants either decide to stand for the duration to get closer to Trump, or to sit in seats farther away.

“A lot of people rush right in and go straight down to the floor,” Cooper said.

That means he sits in line from about 5 a.m. to 3 p.m., then stands for four hours before the rally starts and continues standing for another two hours while Trump and others speak.

“That’s a long, long day,” Cooper said.

He does it for the chance to see the president, learn new information and support Trump and the country, he said.

But also for the morale boost.

“You can be low and go to a Trump rally and be with fellow Trump supporters having a good time,” said Cooper, who first realized he was a Republican at age 16.

“I like the belief that if you work hard, the American dream is possible,” Cooper said. “It’s common sense.”

There are always protests inside the rally, Cooper said.

“The Trump campaign wants people to shout them out — chanting ‘Trump! Trump! Trump! — until security removes them from the venue,” he said. “I’m expecting a decent amount of protesters,” because of Wildwood’s proximity to big urban centers and much of blue New Jersey.

“In other places — red places — I’d estimate (protesters make up) 5% to 10% (of people in the venue). You will see this will be a higher percentage.”

Only once did a rally he attended get canceled because of protesters, Cooper said. That was in Chicago, leading up to the 2016 election.

“Chicago was a madhouse,” he said. “A speaker from the campaign said, ‘Due to security reasons, Trump won’t be coming.’ The protesters had shut down the rally.”

But now that Trump is president, he has a lot more security, Cooper said.

Van Drew said South Jersey is proud to host Trump.

“It shows he cares about big towns, big cities and the little places,” Van Drew said.

Contact: 609-272-7219

Twitter @MichelleBPost

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Staff Writer

In my first job after college got paid to read the New York Times and summarize articles for an early online data base. First reporting job was with The Daily Record in Parsippany. I have also worked in nonprofits, and have been with The Press since 1990.

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