About 20 minutes after President Trump’s motorcade passed over of the Southern bridge on its way back to Mar-a-Lago after golf on Saturday, a white van stopped near a group of supporters.
A man stepped out with an invitation that stunned the devoted sign-waiving crowd.
The president would like to meet with you at Mar-a-Lago.
“It stunned me,” said Mike Sims, of West Palm Beach. “I didn’t know what to think.”
Sixteen supporters piled into two white vans for a short drive across the bridge to the president’s private club. No one expected the 90-minute visit to the president’s “Winter White House.”
“I was wearing baggy pants,” bemoaned one supporter of the sudden invite — and the photo she had taken with Trump.
The group went through the usual security sweep by the Secret Service and then met with the president, who was still in his golf clothes and shoes.
He shook hands with the group near the pool and posed with each for photos. A White House photographer also shot pictures. The president gave a short history of Mar-a-Lago, built in the 1920’s by cereal heiress Marjorie Merriweather Post and gave each a magazine about the estate.
Trump bought the dilapidated estate in 1985 and restored it. In 1995 he opened Mar-a-Lago as a private club, which now has about 500 members. Today, Mar-a-Lago has a spa, tennis courts, two pools, putting greens, several dining areas and bedrooms that are available only to members and their guests.
“He couldn’t have been more down to earth,” said Mary Tulko, of Lake Worth. Tulko said she thanked the president for the big stock market gains this year. “He was just really nice.”
After the meet, greet and photo op, Trump asked his aides to show the group into his living room to see the Christmas tree, and outside, to view the helicopter. They were then invited into the ballroom for snacks: meatballs, watermelon, pigs in a blanket, spring rolls, thick chocolate chip cookies, iced tea and water.
Sims especially liked the water.
“It was a regular water bottle except it didn’t say Zephyrhills, it said Trump,” said Sims, who grabbed one as a souvenier. “It was just a fabulous experience. I will never forget it.”
Saturday’s impromptu visit was not the first. On March 18, seven Trump supporters who cheered the president as his motorcade passed were also invited to the estate. A day later, on his way out of town, the president stopped his motorcade and got out of his armored SUV to swiftly greet supporters.
Donald Tarca Jr. of Boynton Beach said the group was invited “not because we are famous or big donors but because we are members of a group called ‘The Trump Squad,’ a group of supporters who faithfully gather at the west end of the Southern Boulevard bridge to greet the president. Our motto is ‘See you at the bridge!’”
Tarca was at the bridge again on Sunday afternoon, waiting with the rest of the squad for the president to return from his golf club in West Palm Beach.
“It was such an honor — a day to all us deplorables we will never forget,” Tarca said. “We the people do matter.”