FAR HILLLS, N.J. (AP) — Rains of Woodstockian proportion didn’t deter hordes of people from flocking to this quaint corner of New Jersey for the much-anticipated event of the spring Friday.
Oh, and the president of the United States was a few miles down the road, too.
While the eyes of the world were focused on Trump’s weekend visit to his golf course in Bedminster, the soggy masses spent Friday hunting for bargains in neighboring Far Hills at the Visiting Nurses Association bi-annual rummage sale.
The area has known Trump for years, since his golf course opened in 2004 on a two-lane road off state Route 206 outside of town. On Friday there was little sign of activity outside the club’s front gate, where signs on both sides of the road prohibit stopping or standing.
Trump won Bedminster by eight votes over Hillary Clinton in November, despite losing by a wide margin in Somerset County. The local split was evident Friday at the rummage sale, no better personified than in the hot takes of Alison Dahl and Rose Marie Nicholson, best friends despite their political differences.
“I believe it’s important to protect all of our elected officials, whether they come from one party or another, it’s just part of our obligation to provide for them,” said Nicholson, 75, of nearby Chester.
She said Trump has been a fixture in the town over the years and hasn’t caused any problems.
“He’s a very humble man, believe it or not,” she said.” Up close and personal he’s very humble, and very considerate.”
Dahl, 67, also of Chester, sees things differently, and expressed concern that local taxpayers could be on the hook for extra security costs. The town has told federal officials it could spend up to $300,000 this summer if Trump makes several visits.
“I just think the whole idea that tax dollars are supporting not only the president but the president’s wife in New York City and the president’s adult, very wealthy grown children traveling all over the world, it’s just beyond reason,” she said. “I think we are being asked to support much more than we are able to or should have to.”
Trump said Friday he chose to go to the golf course to avoid disrupting New York and to lower security costs.
“Rather than causing a big disruption in N.Y.C., I will be working out of my home in Bedminster, N.J. this weekend. Also saves country money!” Trump tweeted after waking up for the first time as president at his Trump National Golf Course in Bedminster.
The town of rolling hills and horse farms is about 40 miles (65 kilometers) west of New York. With a population of about 9,000 people, Bedminster has a police force of 16, including the chief.
Trump signed a federal spending bill Friday that would allocate millions of dollars to reimburse expenses at Trump Tower in New York and Trump’s Mar-a-Lago resort in Florida. New York has spent close to $30 million, and Palm Beach County has spent almost $5 million.
Bedminster can apply for reimbursement from a $20 million fund covering the period between the election and the inauguration, and from $41 million earmarked for presidential security costs incurred between Jan. 20 and Oct. 1.