By JACKIE HANSON
Guest writer / photographer
On Friday, Feb. 13, a rally for Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump was held in the Sun Dome at the University of South Florida campus in Tampa. The Dome has a seating capacity of 10,000 and with the floor completely filled as well, there were at least 12,000 people in the building.
USF Police Chief Daniel estimated that about 2,000 people were unable to get inside and watched on large screens outside.
Anyone physically able should try to attend one of the presidential candidates’ rallies — it is electric! From start to finish, these rallies are nonstop busy and require your involvement. Upon arrival, my husband John and I were very cordially escorted to the proper entrance for inspection of our photography equipment by security agents. Our cameras and all equipment were taken from us and secured in a guarded area at which point the authorities opened, looked in and checked out everything. Then the agents brought in dogs that also sniffed and investigated everything again. This process was all done in a calm and friendly manner, and the equipment was cleared. Then it was our turn to be scrutinized with metal detectors, security wands and dogs. Quite an experience!
From there we were able to go to the media area and set up the equipment to photograph Trump speaking from a great vantage point. While we waited for the rally to begin, we were entertained by locals with some imaginative signs; people made up to be look-alikes; and all forms of music, from Chuck Berry to beautiful opera.
One amusing occurrence in the audience was when six USF students stood up, pulled up their tee shirts and revealed the letters TRUMP! painted on their torsos. The exuberant crowed went wild with cheering and clapping. So much fun! Everyone appeared to be happy and having a really good time. The local police were quite efficient in getting that many people out of the Sun Dome and on their way home. It is worth the time and effort to attend one of these rallies at least once, regardless of the candidate or political party. It’s a privilege to be an American and still have the freedom to express ourselves politically.