Updated 8:33 a.m.
The announcement that Donald Trump would have a rally at Ambridge Area High School, starting during the school day, caused a stir last week — and that was before Fridays’s tape news or Sunday’s debate.
“No middle ground is a good way to sum it up,” said Joe Kauer, the Ambridge borough manager, on Friday afternoon about the initial reactions to Trump’s rally in Ambridge.
Hours later, The Washington Post published a video of Trump making graphic comments about women in 2005. Its backlash for the Republican presidential candidate meant more Republican leaders withdrew support, though Trump said he’s not going anywhere.
All of that came before the second presidential debate Sunday, where questions about sexual assault dominated the beginning of the town hall-style debate. (Trump also had a news conference beforehand with women who accused Bill Clinton of sexual assault.)
The debate ended with a question from audience member Carl Becker who asked the candidates to say one positive thing about each other. (Clinton said she admired Trump’s children, and Trump said Clinton was a fighter.)
And now, Trump’s on to Ambridge. Here’s what you need to know if you’re going or watching from the comfort of your Twitter stream.
First, the basics
The rally is at Ambridge Area High School’s field house (on the corner of Duss Avenue and Eighth Street in Ambridge). Doors open at 12:30 p.m. for Trump’s anticipated 3:30 p.m. speech.
While the school initially planned to dismiss students a half hour early, high school and junior high students will be dismissed at 11 a.m., with elementary students following at noon, per the district’s website.
Registration to attend the event was closed as of Saturday evening, according to Trump’s website.
Parking and traffic will be terrible
Ambridge is an older community so parking will be difficult, borough manager Kauer said.
He advised that you come early and either be patient as you look for a legal parking spot (emphasis on the legal) or take advantage of the park and ride lot on 11th Street between Duss and Melrose avenues. That lot is also very close to the high school.
It’s NOT a school or borough event
Both the school and Kauer have made sure to point out that the are not sponsoring the event.
The Trump campaign followed the district’s policy for renting the field house, and the event isn’t an endorsement, according to the school’s Facebook.
J.D. Prose of The Times reported that the campaign paid roughly $2,000 for the rental, but that fee may change.
Kauer told The Incline that Ambridge police and Secret Service will work together on safety logistics, but the borough is neither a sponsor, nor a host of the event.
Everyone should leave thinking Ambridge is a wonderful community, Kauer said, adding that the goal is for both Trump supporters and protestors to have a positive and respectful experience.
Speaking of protesters
They’ll be there.
Maria Taylor, 19, of Shadyside, said she graduated from Ambridge Area High School in 2015 and was immediately upset when she saw the school was allowing Trump’s visit.
Taylor said it’s unnerving that someone so misogynistic and offensive could be at the school (and she added that the recent video of Trump’s lewd comments just solidified her thoughts on him).
The now-Chatham University student said she decided to organize a “Protest against Trump and Hatred,” and after putting it on Facebook, she said it “spread like wildfire.”
Taylor said protestors will stay on the grassy areas to not block sidewalks or roads and will be respectful and address concerns eloquently. She said there is a way for protestors to be respectful while also showing there are people in Beaver County who don’t support Trump.
“We can’t do that with hatred,” she said.
Taylor added that she wants the protest to be a positive experience for participants, especially for those who are protesting for the first time.
Prose of The Times also reported that at least one of the school’s neighbors is planning a protest and that state Rep. Rob Matzie, D-Beaver/Allegheny, is calling on the Ambridge Area School Board to cancel school.
“The safety of kids should be paramount,” Matzie told The Times.