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If you wondered whether President Donald Trump has much support locally in his re-election campaigns, what happened on and along the Ohio River Saturday afternoon should have eliminated any doubts.

At least 100 recreation craft gathered at the East End bridge before 2 p.m. for a 22-mile parade to the Center Street boat ramp in Ironton. I know there were at least 100 because I stood on the sidewalk of the 6th Street bridge during the parade, took photos in both directions and counted. I stopped counting at 100.

My camera and I were at the Guyandotte boat ramp around 1 p.m. to see if the flotilla would amount to much. Already several boats were in the river and more were arriving by land and by water. The sky was sunny and clear, so several boat operators managed to claim a spot in the shade of the bridge while waiting.

With a few exceptions, boats all had at least one Trump campaign flag. Many had two or more.

The parade itself started a little after 2 p.m. Some boats took off quickly, while some waited.

From there I went to the 6th Street bridge to get an overhead view, and already there were two or three dozen people there to cheer on the flotilla or just watch it. Several held Trump flags or attached them to the sidewalk railing.

From the bridge sidewalk, it looked like some boats were passing Catlettsburg, Kentucky, before others had left Guyandotte 12 miles back.

Most boats had two or more people aboard, so there were anywhere from 200 to 500 people making all or part of the trip. Given the number who were smiling and waving, most seemed to be having a good time.

The spectators on the bridge were having a good time, too. So was Chesapeake, Ohio, resident Paul Hart, who drove his old Farmall Cub tractor across the bridge to Huntington and back with a large Trump 2020 flag flying from it.

From there it was on to Ironton, where a crowd had gathered to see the parade come to an end. Many wore Trump T-shirts. Every parking spot at the boat ramp was full, and some people had to park a block or more away. The boats that arrived stayed out in the river. Their owners didn’t seem to be in any rush to get out of the water.

And it seemed that a lot of people in boats or on shore were staring more at their phones than at the boats.

As far as counterdemontrations, there were people at Harris Riverfront Park holding Joe Biden signs for the boaters to see, assuming they were looking in that direction. It was nothing like the crowd outside the civic arena when Trump was there in person three years ago.

Overall it was a pleasant day, totally unlike what you find on social media. People on social media can be nasty when they don’t have to face the people they’re being mean to, especially when politics are involved. But on Saturday, people could do their thing and have fun. Maybe real life is better than the online one.

Jim Ross is development and opinion editor of The Herald-Dispatch. His email is jross@herald-dispatch.com.

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