Photos by Pam Zubeck
Many showed up in wheelchairs and walkers to worship a man who mocked a disabled reporter.
They came in heavy coats. They came in shorts. They came in jeans and bell bottoms. They came in MAGA hats, Trump capes, Trump masks and flag-decorated clothing.
They came with walkers, wheelchairs and canes.
The young, old, black, brown, rich, poor, female and male — they all came.
They came in droves from Colorado Springs, Denver, Arvada, Aurora, Guffey, Limon, Cañon City and elsewhere.
They flocked to Colorado Springs to show homage to their leader, President Donald Trump, who was due to sweep them off their feet at The Broadmoor World Arena at a 5 p.m. rally on Feb. 20.
They were eager to be swept.
Bill Larkin donned his Trump mask to honor the president.
"I love the man," said Robert Nelson, who moved to Cañon City from Mississippi three years ago. "I want to see him personally. I voted for him last time, because my wife said so. This time, I want to vote for him because I want to."
Nelson went on to emphasize that he's a Christian, and he likes Trump's attempt to restore prayer in public school classrooms. "We need to bring some values back into it," he added. Asked about Trump's values, such as allegedly assaulting women and calling anyone who opposes him names, Nelson said Trump's attacks are merely in response to being repeatedly criticized by others. He chalked up the assaults on women to stupid things people do when they're younger. "I have to weigh the good things with the bad things."
But Trump's rallies are so inspiring, he noted, that a Democrat friend from the South told him she recently attended a Trump rally and said "she might be converted."
Most of those streaming to the World Arena on Thursday, Feb. 20, were already converted.
A band of four teenagers from Arvada — all too young to vote — lavished praise on the president.
"We love Trump, because he gets what he wants done, like he cuts taxes, slowing down immigration and cutting trade deals," one said.
Sophie Colvard, too, expressed devotion to Trump because of the healthy economy and his opposition to abortion.
An adult with the group asked them, "And if you could vote, who would you vote for?"
All chimed, "Trump."
Trump provides a marketing bonanza. Vendors hawked Trump gear, from hats to bumper stickers, and red stocking hats labeled "Tump 2020." They were flying off the tables and onto adoring heads, creating a sea of crimson as thousands queued up to enter the arena.
One vendor said he follows the Trump campaign to every rally and, himself, is pro-Trump. "Why not?" he said. "He's the president. I don't believe everything in the fake newspapers." The vendor said he donates 20 percent of his take to the Trump re-election campaign.
Another vendor from Phoenix, Arizona, Julian Conradson, said Trump's his man. "He does what he's promised in breaking up the corruption in Washington. He's the greatest president we've every had."
Dozens carried clipboards and worked the crowd registering people to vote.
Voter registration experienced a big push ahead of Trump's rally.
Two Colorado Springs women proclaimed, "We love Trump. We're committed to him."
As a backdrop to the pulsing crowd, which periodically broke into chants of "USA USA USA," a billboard-sized screen broadcast programming generated by the Trump campaign in a talk-show format, with numerous people of color asserting how great Trump has been for minorities.
Many let their garments do the talking in honor of Trump.
The "hosts" also issued an announcement that if anyone detected a "protester," they were not to touch them but to hold a Trump sign over their head and chant, "Trump Trump Trump" until security could "remove the protester."
A retired couple from Guffey, Suzanne and Jim Montague, said they came because they "enjoy listening" to Trump speak.
"He's there for the American people. He's not there for himself or special interests," Suzanne Montague said. "Everything he does is right. You might not see it right away, but you see it eventually."
Supporters seemed to be waiting patiently to see the president outside the World Arena.
Security was thick at the arena, with on-duty police officers providing crowd control, and the city's vehicles blocking traffic on roads that border the World Arena. The city and El Paso County say they aren't charging the Trump campaign
(nor do they charge any dignitary) for assets used to support the rally.