People stand outside for Donald Trump's rally in Schnecksville, Pennsylvania . This was Trump's first major campaign event in the Lehigh Valley. (Grace Roche/B&W Staff)

Trump holds first rally in the Lehigh Valley


A sea of red and American flags covered the Schnecksville Fire Hall ground April 13as thousands of people lined up waiting for Donald Trump’s first rally in the Lehigh Valley. 

Trump arrived at the venue from a Bucks County fundraiser around 8 p.m. 

Immigration was one of the main topics of the day, with Trump addressing it several times in his hour-long speech. 

Todd Shimko, who attended the rally in support of Trump, said he wanted to hear more from him about securing the border. 

Since Trump lost both the Lehigh and Northampton counties in the 2020 presidential election, Shimko said this rally was important for the campaign.

“To come here to the Lehigh Valley and to see this level of support, the amount of people who really have support and confidence in him, this should hopefully confirm his victory for the Lehigh County,” Shimko said. “This is a great showing today.”

Another attendee, Micheal Wadas, came from Hellertown to support the former president. 

“I pretty much agree with his entire platform,” Wadas said. “That’s why I’m out here.”

He also said immigration was a big concern of his. 

He pointed to a lack of border security and the sale of border wall construction materials as two crucial failings of the Biden administration. Wadas said this is one reason he hopes Trump will win the 2024 presidential election. 

“Biden has really put us in a bad situation and I hope enough people wake up and vote for Trump so he could kind of reverse, or at least hope to reverse, all the damage that Biden has caused over the years,” Wadas said.

Wadas attended a Trump rally in Wilkes-Barre in 2022 and said he liked the sense of community he felt at both events. He said people at each rally were passionate about their freedom and their desire to be left alone by the government. 

Trump also discussed the economy, though much of his speech included insulting the Biden administration and accusations of a stolen election. 

Jake Hasay, a nurse who traveled from the Shickshinny municipality to attend the rally, said his main concern in the upcoming election is the economy. 

“I came out because I like Trump and I’ve always been a Republican, but not just because I want to support him, but because I’m really tired of having to pay insane amounts of money for groceries or if I want to go out to eat,” Hasay said. 

He said he finds it frustrating to see how much gas prices have risen in recent years, while the government sends funds abroad for wars he doesn’t think the U.S. should be involved in. 

“I think four years ago, we were much better off,” Hasay said. “When we were under Trump, I was paying maybe $60 to fill up my truck. Now it’s $90.”

Hasay was arrested and charged for owning an illegal machine gun in 2018. He was sentenced to two years in prison and was released in 2020. 

He credited the First Step Act, passed in 2018 during the Trump administration, for helping his reentry process upon his release. 

The act contains provisions for the early release of prisoners for crimes similar to Hasay’s, and reentry assistance once they are released. 

“I think that I’m in the position that I am right now as a nurse, partially as a result of many of Donald Trump’s policies and laws he helped pass during the COVID-19 Pandemic,” Hasay said.

Many attendees displayed passionate support for Trump, with chants such as “Let’s go Brandon!” breaking out during his address. 

“When Trump comes out here, it’s almost like a party,” Hasay said. “We see people tailgating out here, drinking and having fun. Trump brings the party.”

This was the last rally before Trump’s criminal trial began April 15. Entry to the rally was free, but based on a first-come-first-serve basis.

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