HUNTSVILLE, Ala. - We're less than three days away from President Donald Trump's first visit to Huntsville as Commander-in-Chief. He will be in town to rally support for Republican Senate Candidate Luther Strange, just days before the Republican Senate Runoff Race.
The last time Madison County hosted an event with the security of this magnitude, Candidate Trump was in Madison at a 2016 campaign rally.
Madison's Public Works department had only 48 hours to prepare for that visit, so we sat down with their director about the insight he has on preparing for a President.
“Lot of anxiety, a lot of planning ahead of this," says Mike Gentle, the Director of Madison Public Works.
Gentle is a member of a unique group who understands the stresses of what the City of Huntsville is dealing with.
“There’s a lot of pieces to the puzzle that have to come together because all kinds of agencies that are going to be involved with this," he says.
Mike and his team worked in tandem with various agencies to pull off the massive Madison rally during the middle of the 2016 campaign.
For that event, then-Senator Jeff Sessions became the first elected official to endorse Trump. Friday, the President is hoping to bolster support for Sessions' successor, Luther Strange.
“That’s what I suggest to Huntsville, work as a team because you’re going to work with state, county, local, FBI, all of those," says Gentle.
There are many things we don’t know about the President’s visit, but one thing we do know is the front of the Von Bruan Center should be packed.
If you plan on coming out there on Friday, make sure you arrive early, because if history is any indication, there could be a line that wraps completely around the building.
President Trump visited Nashville back in March and was greeted by supporters that started gathering around dawn, and a line that extended for miles.
Many gathered just for a glimpse of the President. Mike says, if you're one of those individuals, don't even bother.
“If you don’t have a ticket, there’s no sense in even trying to get close to there because you’re not going to get to see the man," he advises.
As with any Presidential visit, traffic could be a nightmare.
“Traffic comes to a standstill until the motorcade comes through, so I’m sure they’re going to have a plan to get him there as quick as possible, straight as possible, get him into the civic center and then back out," he says.
For security reasons, we may never know the exact time the President is expected to land at Huntsville International Airport, so Mike suggests, avoid I-565 as much as you can Friday afternoon.
“Be patient, these events usually don’t start on time," says Gentle.
As someone who has been in charge of all this before, Mike urges everyone, regardless of party or Presidential preference, to just take a deep breath.
“They just want to make sure everybody’s safe, and that’s what it’s all about," he says.
Gentle and his team actually did such a great job with organizing the Madison campaign event, that they received a special commendation from the U.S. Secret Service.
Mike has already reached out to the City of Huntsville saying, he's willing to help them in any way they can, to help pull off this massive undertaking.
If you need to reserve a ticket to see President Trump campaign with Sen. Luther Strange, click here.