WILKES-BARRE TWP. — The President of the United States is coming, and Wilson Dorman is ready.
“You have to see what the most important issue is,” Dorman said Monday as he worked a pop-up merchandise tent at the corner of Kidder and Mundy Streets stocked with Trump apparel and souvenirs.
“Usually those issues tend to be our best sellers,” added Dorman, 60, of Ashtabula, Ohio.
Whatever the issues, that tent full of T-shirts is a sign that Donald J. Trump’s return to Northeastern Pennsylvania this week is expected to draw huge crowds of the faithful — and of those who strenuously disagree with the president and his policies.
Trump is slated to appear at Mohegan Sun Arena at 7 p.m. Thursday to campaign for U.S. Rep. Lou Barletta, the former Hazleton mayor who is vying to oust Scranton Democrat Bob Casey from his U.S. Senate seat this November.
It also means that a world of advance work has gotten underway since announcement of the visit was made last Wednesday.
Arena general manager Brian Sipe said the Secret Service is handling all safety and security measures at his facility, but offered some helpful tips for those planning to attend.
The arena doors will open at 4 p.m., and the arena will charge rally goers $10 to park in the arena parking lot.
Attendees will have to walk through metal detectors, and Sipe encourages everyone to leave non-essential items in their cars.
Those who wish to attend must obtain tickets for the rally by going to www.donaldjtrump.com. Click on the rallies tab and follow the instructions.
“Everybody with Trump’s team has been fantastic to work with and everything should run smoothly,” Sipe said.
Protesters gearing up
Not everyone is excited to see Trump visit the area.
Local activists from Action Together Northeastern PA and the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre chapter of the anti-Trump organization Refuse Fascism plan on protesting the president’s visit.
“We need to show Trump that not all of Luzerne County and Northeastern Pennsylvania is behind him,” said Refuse Fascism Scranton/Wilkes-Barre chapter president Joe Biscotto. “Trump needs to know that it won’t be easy for him to win here again.”
Luzerne County is considered by many political analysts to be the county that propelled Trump to victory in his 2016 Presidential campaign.
“I spoke to other local activists once I heard Trump was coming back to the area,” Biscotto, 38, of Pittston, said. “From there we all started a group chat and the support has truly been amazing.”
Biscotto hopes to have a few hundred people join his protest.
“We had a much smaller group protesting last time,” Biscotto mentioned. “People have had two years to realize how bad the Trump/Pence regime has been. So I expect a larger turnout.”
Action Together Northeastern PA board member Dwayne Heisler said his group would be protesting peacefully at the intersection of 250 Highland Park Blvd. on the sidewalk near the entrance to Interstate I-81.
“We won’t be blocking access to the arena or standing in the roadways,” Heisler said. “We aren’t about obstruction. We just want to share in the moment in our way.”
Apparel and souvenirs
Dorman, who said he is a salesman for a company called CNN Sales, is already seeing enthusiasm for the rally translate into strong business.
Some of the company’s best sellers include a spoof on the Calvin Hobbes T-shirt of Trump urinating on the CNN logo and a Trump 2020 button.
Dorman has gone on the road to follow Trump, selling merchandise for about a year.
“Yes, it’s a job,” Dorman explained. “But it’s much more than that. It’s nice meeting people all over the country, getting to talk to them and hear differing opinions.
“We’ve gotten to meet true Americans all over the country. Sometimes politics and the media get in the way of that and people have told us what issues they feel are most important.”
Dorman mentioned how proud his company is to support the 45th president and the work he’s done so far in Washington.
“You can’t clean up 100 years of problems overnight,” Dorman said. “We believe Trump is ‘Making America Great Again’ and that he will continue to make it great.”
Dorman has considered the trip very profitable already considering that the infamous red ‘Make America Great Again’ hat has already sold out.
“I’m not going to disappoint the supporters of Luzerne County. I’ve placed a call to our warehouse to get more hats here for Thursday,” Dorman added.
Reach Dan Stokes at 570-991-6389 or on Twitter @ByDanStokes