Thousands gather for Trump rally in Estero

ESTERO, Fla. — The first of about 8,000 people expected for Donald Trump’s rally poured in shortly before noon Monday, when doors at Germain Arena opened to a throng that had waited outside for hours.

The event begins at 3 p.m. Free tickets ran out on Trump’s website Friday, and resellers were hawking them Monday for as much as $600 on Craigslist.

Security is tight, as Secret Service agents, the Lee County Sheriff’s Office and SWAT teams collaborate on the event. Authorities wouldn’t elaborate on their plans for traffic patterns in the area, but delays are expected, and drivers not attending the rally are cautioned to avoid the intersection of Ben Hill Griffin Parkway and Corkscrew Road.

The School District of Lee County advised parents that congestion could lead to afternoon bus delays.

A smaller group of 50-75 gathered at Democratic Party of Lee County headquarters Monday morning, where labor and local Democratic leaders spoke against the Trump campaign, calling the Republican nominee unfit and unqualified for the presidency.

They pointed to his lack of military service and controversial statements and called for a federal investigation into a $25,000 donation that the Donald J. Trump Foundation made in 2013 to a PAC supporting Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi.

Both Democrats and Republicans are feverishly courting swing state undecided voters with less than two months to go before the election. Julie Krenn, one such voter headed to the Trump rally Monday, said she’ll be listening for answers to specific questions.

“I really want to hear what he’s going to do with security,” Krenn said. “That’s a big issue. Also the military. My son’s in the military. He served 18 months in Iraq and a year in Afghanistan. Now he’s going off to Korea … that’s a big concern for me.”

The Trump event has no reserved seating, so spots are available to ticketholders on a first-come, first-served basis. Overflow parking is available in the adjacent Miromar Outlets lot.

No identification is necessary for entry. No professional cameras, tripods or selfie sticks are allowed.

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