EVERETT — The first supporters gathered well before dawn outside Xfinity Arena.
By late afternoon, thousands awaited Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump’s arrival. The line to get in snaked for more than 10 city blocks between Hewitt and Pacific avenues.
Cheers went up as the cops drove by. Talk in the crowd buzzed of Supreme Court appointments, illegal immigration and outsourced jobs.
“Our way of life is at stake,” said Shelly Fine, a medical student from Everett near the front of the line.
“For me, this is American history,” said Chris Wright, a 45-year-old Boeing worker from Gold Bar. “This is going to be a piece of American history when this is all said and done.”
The sidewalk scene was part rock festival and part CenturyLink Field tailgate party, with some religious revival mixed in.
Kim Walker, 30, of Redmond, wore a pink “Hot Chicks For Trump” button and a blingy Trump shirt.
“He rubs some people the wrong way,” she said. “It’s OK for some people to get offended. I think everybody is way too soft these days. They need to toughen up a little bit. He said things about women. I’ve said things about other women. That doesn’t mean that I hate all other women. But some of them I don’t like.”
Vendors were doing a brisk business selling Trump buttons for $5. Two women stood by, debating which ones would be worth a lot of money someday. They both agreed it wasn’t the one that said Hot Chicks for Trump.
Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton was a flash point.
“Hillary for Prison 2016” shirts were popular among Trump supporters.
Rose Walker, 58, came from Redmond at 7:30 a.m. with her daughter and an “I’m with Stupid. Shrillary For Prison” poster and a pink “Women for Trump” sign.
“He tells it like it is. He doesn’t sugarcoat anything,” she said of Trump.
A woman drove by a man selling Trump souvenirs and asked, “Do yo have anything for Hillary?”
The vendor laughed: “No, ma’am. We’ll have something for Hillary if she shows up.”
Michael MacNeill, 55, of Everett, stood about a block and a half into the line in an Uncle Sam hat and American flag-patterned shirt. The airplane inspector said he particularly liked Trump’s stance on trade.
“As a Boeing worker, we need to keep our jobs here. That’s huge,” he said. “We need to keep jobs here in the U.S. and especially here in Washington state.”
Debbie Haynes, a Tukwila grandmother 12 times over, said, “I’m 56. Registered to vote for the first time today.”
Haynes said Americans are split about the 2016 election. Feelings run high on all sides.
“This election cost me a 30-year friendship,” she said. “That’s how serious this election is. I have a 30-year friend who was a Bernie supporter. I’m a Trump supporter. We got into it so much that it ended our friendship.”
Brandon Knox, 18, of Auburn, showed up at 2 a.m. and was first in line.
“I like Trump because he’s pro-gun and he wants to enforce immigration,” he said.
It was his second Trump rally. The only supplies he brought were water and beef jerky.
Russil Alden, a 58-year-old from Surrey, B.C., said Trump appeals to conservative-minded Canadians like himself. Securing the borders against illegal immigration and staunching the outflow of jobs to Asia are Trump views that resonate with them.
“As America goes, so does the Western World,” Alden said.
Though he can’t vote in the U.S. election, the Canadian said he’s put a Trump bumper sticker on his Toyota — only to have a man on a motorcycle yell obscenities and make lewd gestures at him in traffic.
Not everybody was there to support real-estate-mogul-turned-politician.
When a pair walked by holding up a sign that read, “No white supremacy in the white house,” supporters answered by chanting, “U-S-A. U-S-A.”
A few hundred anti-Trump demonstrators gathered in Clark Park after 4 p.m. Among the elected officials and activists speaking there were Everett Mayor Ray Stephanson, state Sen. John McCoy, D-Tulalip, and state Rep. Mike Sells, D-Everett.
“This crowd here reflects the broad diversity of our community,” said U.S. Rep. Rick Larsen, a Democrat from Everett. “Clinton clearly represents that broad diversity and Trump does not.”
The Rev. Susan Cyr, an interfaith minister from Brier, said “Trump encourages people to hate one another, people within our country and internationally.”
While others at the park held signs reading “No hate in our state,” Cyr’s husband, Craig Cyr, hoped the billionaire nominee would stick around.
“Personally, I hope he spends a lot of time in Washington state, staying away from the rest of the country. We’ll inoculate the country.”
Anti-Trump demonstrators later marched several blocks down Lombard Avenue, chanting, “Love trumps hate.” When they arrived at the arena, they faced off with the crowds waiting to get inside. They held signs declaring “No hate in the White House” and others supporting Clinton.
A phalanx of police stood between the two groups.