LYNDEN, Wash. -- Local, state and federal law enforcement agencies say they’re working together to ensure that Saturday's Donald Trump rally will be safe and secure for everyone who attends. But there are still many people in Lynden who say an event like this should not be taking place in the small town.
“My plan for tomorrow is to stay away from all the chaos,” say Maria Risener.
She’s still in shock that Trump is coming to Lynden for a political rally on Saturday. She doesn’t know how the town and the fairgrounds will get ready, with less than 48 hours’ notice.
“Our biggest event every year is the Northwest Washington Fair,” she says. “There's a lot of people who attend that, but we have a year to prepare for that.”
Trump had considered holding rallies at Paine Field in Everett or at Boeing Field in Seattle, but those plans fell through. Instead, the campaign chose Lynden, a city of about 13,000 people in the far northwest part of the state that is only about 5 miles south of the U.S.-Canadian border.
According to state Sen. Doug Ericksen, R-Ferndale – who has been working with Trump’s campaign – the campaign was just looking for a venue without a previously scheduled event that could accommodate their rally. They kept moving north as things kept falling through. They were trying to keep things near an airport that could accommodate Trump’s 757. Original plans were to have the event at an airport at some hangar but that didn’t work out so Lynden was it.
Many people in town are concerned, however. They says it’s not just the size of the event, but the fact that some Trump rallies around the country have turned violent.
“I’m just hoping the police are trained well enough to handle this,” says Sharon Serrano.
A few dozen protesters already turned out in Bellingham Friday afternoon, to say Trump’s messages "of hate" aren’t welcome.
“I’m just here because I wanted to be in solidarity with those people that are being denigrated and marginalized,” says Terrence Dooley. “You know, it's not acceptable.”
“Our community does not tolerate hate and bigotry or any signs of fascism,” adds Junga Subedar.
Even if the protests remain peaceful, they could interrupt the other events planned at the fairgrounds. A wedding, RV show and equestrian event have already been booked. That’s why Risener is upset the fairgrounds agreed to host Trump’s rally.
“Just because they have the right to do it does not make it the right thing to do,” she says.
But the stands Saturday will likely be filled with thousands of supporters, who are happy to have a front row seat to one of the most electric political candidates ever.
“He could say something at the rally that becomes a defining thing for his candidacy, good or bad,” says Ron Kramer, who plans to attend the rally with his son. “We could be there when he says it. Anything could happen.”