Heat no deterrent for thousands of supporters:

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Despite record heat and long wait times to enter the Dream City Church, thousands of supporters turned out in north Phoenix Thursday for a chance to see and hear former President Donald Trump.

Lines began to coil across the church’s front lawn before the doors opened at 10 a.m. More than 4,000 people showed up to the event, with many left outside of the venue after the fire marshal deemed the venue at capacity.

Temperatures in Phoenix reached 112 degrees at Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport on Thursday, breaking the previous daily record from 2016.

According to Cpt. Todd Keller, spokesperson for the Phoenix Fire Department, 11 people were taken to local hospitals in heat-related incidents outside of the Dream City Church. Keller characterized the responses as precautionary.

Trump loyalists brave the heat

Adorning suits and bedazzled Trump gear, supporters waited in the open sunlight for hours in the slow-moving line to the doors of the church. 

Consider Litchfield Park residents Megan and Scott Anton.

Scott Anton, a 42-year-old regional security manager, said he is a registered independent and voted for Trump in 2020 because he agrees with Trump’s border control, energy independence and tax policies. 

“We’ve got to stand behind our guy. I think he’s headed in the right direction,” Scott Anton said. “I want to show our support.” 

Megan Anton, 40, a self-employed hairstylist, said Trump was the candidate who finally motivated her to register to vote in 2020.

Vern Tillberg, 78, is a retiree who said Trump’s conviction in New York doesn’t change anything.

“That’s a kangaroo court,” he said.

Not everyone at the event was a fan

Although Trump loyalists were determined, Maricopa resident Jeff Northrup did not lack the same determination was not.

The 77-year-old has been a steady presence at events featuring Trump, but not for the usual reason.

“I’ve been working against Trump since 2015, so we’re into our ninth year,” Northrup said as he picketed against Trump in the scorching heat.

Outside the church, he held up signs in opposition to Trump supporters and mocked Trump’s recent felony convictions in New York.

Passers-by heckled him in response, and a police officer asked him to leave the premises.

For his part, Northrup seemed unbothered.

“If they (hecklers) get abusive with me,” he said, “I’ll turn around and stick my butt in their face.”

Many left out after Trump’s arrival

The Trump motorcade arrived at Dream City Church in Phoenix at about 1:10 p.m. Those who were outside and still hoping to attend the event chanted his name when they saw the cars roll up.

Minutes later, however, officials at the church notified the hundreds still gathered outside that the church was at full capacity, which is about 4,500 people.

Mike Petersen, 39, of northern Phoenix, stayed outside the church for Trump’s speech and watched the livestream with more than 50 other Trump supporters. 

“I got to mingle with fellow patriots,” he said. “It was nice and relaxed. You could tell it was a little disorganized, but it was still good to be out here with the fellow patriots.”

Petersen, who previously voted for former presidential candidate Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., said he voted for Trump in 2016. 

Arizona Republic reporter Perry Vandell contributed to this report. 


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