South Mississippi prepares for President Donald Trump rally

South Mississippi prepares for President Donald Trump rally
President Donald Trump acknowledges the crowd as he leaves a rally Sunday, Nov. 4, 2018, in Chattanooga, Tenn. (AP Photo/Mark Humphrey) (Source: Mark Humphrey)

BILOXI, MS (WLOX) - President Donald Trump will make his second appearance in South Mississippi. This time, it’s for a rally in support of incumbent candidate Sen. Cindy Hyde-Smith, and preparations are a little more intense this time around.

While the Secret Service and White House are in charge, Executive Director of the Mississippi Gulf Coast Coliseum Matt McDonnell and his team have to do the leg work.

“It’s definitely not something we encounter on a frequent basis,” he said.

McDonnell went through a similar process in 2016 when Trump appeared as a candidate, but things have changed, and the intensity is higher.

“So, not the same footprint, not the same protocol,” he said. “A lot different now that he’s the president of the United States. ... We have to go back and rethink what we’ve done in the past, and then be able to adapt to what their needs are today.”

It’s the kind of rare event that gets him and his team excited.

“Any time you can get a sitting president in your building, no matter what party they are, that’s a big-time event, and I’m mighty proud that we are able to host this president," he said.

Security protocols are in place to protect everyone, including protestors expected to gather on the south side of U.S. 90.

“Come out, speak your mind,” McDonnell said. “That’s your public right to do so, and we respect that. But we just ask you do that in the fashion that the City of Biloxi and secret service lays out.”

For those attending the rally, there will be only two entrances to the coliseum grounds for traffic and one for those entering the building.

Of course, security will be tight.

“If people will come a little bit early, yes, I do anticipate it running smoothly,” McDonnell said. “If they wait to come at 5 o’clock thinking they’re going to just drive in, park and walk in, that’s going to become an issue.”

First responders will be on duty for traffic flow as well as security, safety and first-aid services.

“It’s an honor for all the first responders to be involved in an event like this,” said Harrison County Fire Chief Pat Sullivan. “We take this very seriously, and we want a smooth, safe event. So, we will be doing everything we can to work with one another.”

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