UPDATED 7:15 pm Wed. 10/17:
Missoula International Airport issued this statement on parking and logistics:
"Parking for the Presidential Visit will NOT be on Airport property. It will be East of Northstar off Corporate way. Shuttles from the remote parking area will start at 2:00 PM. Please refrain from driving in front of the terminal unless picking up or dropping off passengers.
What we know right now is that people need to park in that area and everyone attending the function needs to ride a shuttle, they will start staffing that area early afternoon."
The Missoula International Airport says President Donald Trump’s rally near the airport on Thursday probably won’t affect inbound and outbound commercial flights.
The airport’s Deputy Director Brian Ellestad says all private civil aviation flights will be grounded during Trump’s appearance, but, “commercial flights for the most part will not be. They’ll be allowed to arrive and depart pretty close on schedule."
Driving in and out of Missoula International, on the other hand – that could get complicated.
“I would expect it to be very busy. I know the Secret Service is working with our local sheriff’s department and there will be road closures out there at some point during the day, but they’ve assured us that our customers will be able to arrive and depart – there may be detours so definitely allow additional time to get here,” Ellestad says.
Those planning to attend the Trump rally will not be allowed to use the airport’s parking lots. Those are for airport customers and Ellestad says staff will helping direct traffic.
There will be separate parking for the Trump rally. Those details are being handled by White House staff and were not available at the time of this recording. Keep checking the airport’s webpage and social media accounts for updates.
There will also be plenty of signage on Highway 10 by Thursday afternoon at the very latest.
Traffic could also get dicey at Thursday’s anti-Trump rally about seven miles across town at Playfair Park. That rally’s sponsored by Missoula Rises.
“We have two Facebook events that have been put up that we've now combined into one event," says the group's founder Erin Erickson. "So just based off the RSVP interest there it looks like about 4,500 are interested, but you never know. I mean it could be 700. Frankly, from my perspective even if we had 150 or 100, I am just happy that our community is coming together.”
Erickson vows that tomorrow’s “Love Trumps Hate” rally will be non-violent and positive even if, she adds, his opponents have every right to feel frustrated and angry.
“More important than just yelling that at him as an ‘angry mob,' it’s critical that we take that passion, rage, energy and channel it into something constructive that will actually make a difference," Erickson says. "So yeah, I think that’s exactly what he wanted to do – was paint Missoula as an angry mob and potentially hold that against [Democratic U.S. Senate incumbent] Jon Tester or [Democratic U.S. House candidate] Kathleen Williams. That’s just not who we are. And not what we’re about.”
Erickson says she believes a constructive rally stands a better chance of winning more hearts and minds than loud, crude or violent reactions to Trump’s Missoula appearance.
“We have actually seen an uptick in people who trend to be more Independents. I think there really is the opportunity for us to have these conversations, to educate ourselves on ballot initiatives and candidates in a way that isn’t alienating.”
The event will feature voter education booths as well as a push to give people an opportunity to register to vote at the nearby county polling place at the Missoula County fairgrounds.
“We’re actually working on getting golf carts – it looks like we’ll have them – to shuttle people over to the polls from 2:30 to 5:00, while the polls are open so they can also cast their votes.”
Erickson says Missoula Rises has fielded a few antagonistic online remarks about its counter-rally.
“Yes, we’ve had them, but we don’t engage. I’m not overly concerned about them coming to the rally. If they do it’s not our intent to engage with them."