Tension at 'surreal' inauguration, Yorkers say

Alyssa Pressler
  • Locals attending the inauguration described it as "exciting" and surreal.
  • Protesters were in the streets with supporters, holding signs and engaging in arguments.
  • Crowds cheered during Trump's speech while watching the inauguration in D.C. restaurants and bars.

As early as 6 a.m. Friday, people lined the streets in Washington, D.C., to witness President Donald Trump's inauguration, including several people from York County.

Trump supporters described the experience as surreal, magical and exciting. Throughout the city, they celebrated as Trump and Vice President Mike Pence took their oaths, hugging each other, shaking hands and shouting at the occasional protester, "Get over it."

While the moment was magical for those looking forward to Trump's presidency, supporters and protesters alike said there was tension in the air.

The streets surrounding the Capitol building were lined with people, both protesters holding signs with statements such as "Not my president" and "Not my Fuhrer" with photos of Trump looking like Adolf Hitler and supporters of Trump wearing "Make America Great Again" hats that were popularized during the campaign.

The groups waited together at the entrances for the inauguration, hoping to gain tickets to the main area. When protesters began to chant "Black lives matter" and "No hate, no fear, immigrants are welcome here," supporters responded with chants of "U.S.A.," or by singing "Na Na Hey Hey Kiss Him Goodbye," by Steam, popular from "Remember the Titans."

Locals: Matt Jansen, a school board member for Spring Grove and a delegate to the Republican National Convention, said he and his wife, Andrea, noticed the strain during their stay. His wife, who was wearing Trump gear, was harassed at some points, as were other women who had voted for Trump, he said.

However, people were generally nice once Jansen approached them to talk about their differences. He said he often went up to younger people at restaurants who were starting to share his point of view.

"I just explained they’re not always going to think the way they think today. Things will change," Jansen said.

Jansen described seeing the inauguration as "surreal," particularly as someone who worked hard with other delegates in Pennsylvania to get Trump elected. He obtained tickets to the inauguration and the inaugural ball for his work as a delegate, so he was able to watch near the Lincoln Memorial Reflecting Pool.

Trump's inauguration draws Yorkers for 'pivotal' moment

Before the inauguration, he had hoped the ceremony would be "one for the history books," and he seemed to think it had lived up to that. This was his first inauguration, and he said unless another person like Trump was elected, he wouldn't go to another.

"I was just in awe it took place and happened," Jansen said. "There were people in the crowd weeping. It was really incredible."

Jansen wasn't the only Yorker who made the trip to D.C. to see the inauguration. Alex Shorb, chairman of the York County Republican Committee, attended as well. He particularly enjoyed Trump's speech.

"He took it to the establishment," Shorb said. "It wasn't pro-Republican or anti-Democrat."

Shorb watched the ceremony from approximately 200 yards away, he said, and he enjoyed seeing the reactions of the crowd. Like Jansen, he ran into a few protesters at the event but felt everyone was very respectful.

U.S Sen. Pat Toomey, R-Pa., said he took two of his children to the inauguration ceremony “to see history firsthand.”

“I hope the sight of the three branches of our government, both parties, standing together will teach them, and remind us all, that we were sent here to do the people’s work, to solve the problems we face and to leave to our children a stronger, safer, more prosperous nation,” Toomey said in a statement.

Toomey said he looks forward to working with President Trump to secure “tax reform, regulatory rollback and a strong American leadership role in the world.”

Misconceptions: During the inauguration, those who couldn't watch from inside the secure area flocked to local restaurants and bars to view the moment on TVs turned up all the way. Neshan Naltchaya watched Trump make his speech and take his oath from Carmine's Restaurant, clapping his hands with the crowd on TV and smiling proudly.

Naltchaya is a D.C. native who was a Trump supporter from the moment he announced. For him, the moment was emotional, and he described the campaign as a journey.

"It's been eight years of waiting for change," he said.

He as well as other supporters felt they were misunderstood by protesters. Naltchaya said many people misunderstood Trump's thoughts on immigration. He said Trump isn't anti-immigrant; he just believes they should work hard and contribute to the country.

Hope Crolius, from Amherst, Massachusetts, said she thinks a huge misconception about Trump and his supporters is their beliefs on the LGBT community. While she doesn't support gay marriage and wishes Trump would act to end it, she pointed out he's said he won't.

"I'm someone who's impressed that Donald Trump has held the LGBT flag and has hired many, many people who are of many sexualities," she said.

Protesting: While supporters were feeling inspired by the inauguration, protesters were concerned. With worried faces, they described their unhappiness with how Trump has spoken of women and his stances on climate change and health care.

Deborah Little, from Long Island, and her daughter Kelsey Weymouth-Little, from Philadelphia, spent Inauguration Day waiting outside the secure area with crowds of other people, protesting Trump's stance on climate change and the environment. Little attended Obama's inauguration in 2009 and said Trump's was different.

"It was colder outside then, but it feels a lot colder now," she said, looking around nervously.

Weymouth-Little said she takes issue with Trump's stance on the LGBT community and feels that his rhetoric during the campaign was racist. She doesn't believe he will hold to his promises to help the working class.

"He claims to be for the working class, but everything he does is for big business," Weymouth-Little said.

Josh Clark, from Raleigh, North Carolina, also went to the inauguration to protest Trump.

"He's basically the worst candidate in modern-day history," Clark said. "I want to let the powers that be know the people will hold them accountable."

Reporter Jason Addy contributed to this article.