Thousands of boaters paraded on Lake Murray over the Fourth of July holiday weekend to show their support for President Donald Trump.
The catalyst was a Facebook group set up to support Trump. Organizer Jason Cline, a Chapin native, put out the call for supporters of the president to turn out for the parade. But even he was surprised by the number of people who turned out for the event Sunday.
“We had boats there from 11 states and every county in South Carolina,” Cline said. “Our photographer said he found a boat all the way from Arizona.”
Cline called it a new world record, with 3,417 boats in the parade, and maybe close to 4,000 individual people onboard.
The boats, decked out with American and Trump campaign flags, took off from Dreher Island Bridge and continued past the Lake Murray Dam to Susie Ebert Island.
Inspiration for the event came from some fellow boaters who take part in another Trump-themed boating parade in Charleston Harbor over the Memorial Day weekend, Cline said, so he created a Facebook event page that quickly attracted more than 2,000 who clicked “going,” and word of mouth spread quickly through social media.
“There were similar pro-Trump boat parades elsewhere in the country, but the one on Lake Murray was the big one and the one that got the most social media attention,” according to the University of South Carolina Social Media Insights Lab. Nearly 57% of social media posts that expressed a sentiment were positive about the event.
Cline said organizers were able to determine the number of vessels in the parade using aerial photographs taken from a helicopter. The event got Cline some national media attention, and even earned him a shout out from Eric Trump when the president’s son tweeted footage of the parade.
Turnout for the event demonstrates that even at a time when Trump is trailing in several national polls against former Vice President Joe Biden, the president maintains strong support in deep red states such as South Carolina.
“The silent majority still supports the president and loves America, and Sunday’s turnout is a prime example,” said Cline, who otherwise says he’s not very politically active. He’s not planning any other Trump-themed events this year, but others at the lake this weekend asked him to host another parade.
“Maybe this will become an annual event,” he said. “It’s not going to be a Trump parade if Joe Biden is president, but we can still have a parade.”