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Editor, The Beacon:

This letter is in response to one published in your Sept. 24-30 edition containing false information and accusations that are inflammatory and most certainly need a response.

The “Trump Parade” to which the letter-writer refers has been organized by a group of longtime DeLand citizens, many of the same who have endeavored for years in different ways to make DeLand the wonderful place it is today.

The first Freedom Caravan was scheduled for Aug. 21, and was postponed due to the tornado that ravaged our town, out of respect for those who were victims of the storm, and also to allow time for everyone to recover.

On Aug. 28, the first caravan traversed through town with 20-plus vehicles, and every Friday thereafter. To set the record straight, on Sept. 4, there were approximately 46 vehicles. The caravan came through Downtown south, playing patriotic music, displaying flags, honking and waving.

“Roaring” through the intersection? Quite descriptive, but not possible, given the traffic lights, etc.

Sept. 11: Would have been difficult to have been longer, since there were fewer vehicles that evening, at 42. The routes are published (see map of route). The author of the letter states that the parade went through the intersection four times. The route shows south through Downtown, through the roundabout, and back north to the beginning point. Only one way each time, not as the writer claims.

The writer claims obscenities were shouted, and the parade was “more menacing.” In what way and since when are cars and trucks flying patriotic flags “menacing”? Screaming, marching with loud drums in the night, loudspeakers, throwing bottles and bricks, and blocking roads, jumping on cars, surrounding diners while they eat — that’s menacing!

When the letter was published, rest assured, it was brought to our attention by many. One of our organizers asked several people who were Downtown what they saw, to determine if any of our group had been shouting anything or blowing smoke. This behavior would not be tolerated.

There are written rules, and these are handed out to each participant. (See rules.)

Our Sept. 11 Caravan was back at its ending point at 6:30 p.m. The trucks described were not part of our group.

One does wonder whether the author of the letter you chose to publish actually witnesses any of the events he described, or is he merely repeating something someone has told him. Was he present on both evenings in question? Seems doubtful.

What’s next, he asks. Here’s what’s next for the Trump Freedom Caravan: We shall continue to exercise the freedoms afforded by the Constitution of this wonderful country.

Just for the edification of your readers, the Downtown people don’t have a corner on hearing insults and seeing menacing gestures, not to mention blatantly dangerous attempts to cause harm to our participants. We’ve seen and heard it all.

Perhaps the author of your chosen letter should check his facts? 

Or, better yet, just maybe your supposed hometown newspaper might consider the rest of the hometown before publishing such a one-sided letter full of half-truths and misconceptions disguised as a plea for kumbaya.

Signed by: West Volusia residents Debbie Dunn, Sandy Barker, Debbie Reed, Liz Jones, Rosemary Grable, Joel Anderson, Mary Murvin and Pete Dunn

The rules

A dashboard card is handed out to participants in the Freedom Caravan, to identify vehicles that are part of the organized parade. Rules for participation are printed on the card, to wit:

Thank you for your support.

Smile, play music, honk and wave.

We are loud and proud.

For the safety of all, we ask that you follow a few rules.

Keep a close/safe distance to the vehicle in front of you.

No vulgar or offensive language or signage.

No divisive flags or signage.

Ignore ignorant actions. Do not react.

Do not confront anyone.

(Phone numbers are provided for the organizers, for use in the event of any problems

What did you see?

The Trump Freedom Caravan provided the following transcript of messages between a caravan organizer and witnesses:

Question from organizer: During the caravan, did you see any kids hanging out anywhere? Any trucks revving dirty smoke? Just checking my facts. You were standing there the entire time.

Answer: There was one truck without flags yelling, but no foul language. Although, I personally got a few “FU” and Trump comments, and I just smiled and waved. Why?

Organizer: I’m getting personal messages this morning, and I’m just following up. I know better, but you were there the entire time. Our people are carefully instructed on proper behavior, as you know, so I know it’s lies trying to shut us down, which will never happen.

Answer: It never happened! There are a few crabs on Nextdoor [a social-media platform] that were complaining about noise, so many people said, “Now, you know it’s a Trump-Biden party; don’t go if you don’t want to. LOL [laugh out loud]. Go to Winter Park, where you can eat in silence.”

Question from a witness: I was at Sidecar market last Friday later in the evening having a drink outside, watching the old people with their Biden signs, and there was a guy in a dark gray pickup who kept driving by, yelling at them that Biden was a pedo. That was not cool. He was pretty obnoxious. It was around 7 p.m.

Answer from organizer: It wasn’t one of our people. We have strict written rules that we hand out, and that is not allowed. We don’t even allow our people to have flags that have bad words on them.

Witness: No, it wasn’t. It was some redneck. But because he did that, I bet that’s where that guy got it from and wrote about it. I was trying to hurry up and get off work so I could catch a glimpse of your Trump train, but was too late. 

So I ended up staying for a few drinks and people-watched as that idiot drove by a few times hollering out the window at them. It was right before they packed up and left. That was the most Biden supporters I’ve seen locally in one place. I was actually quite surprised. And, was glad to see them clean up after themselves.

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