President Donald Trump is almost certain to receive a warm welcome from football fans packing Bryant-Denny Stadium for the Alabama-LSU game Saturday.
Alabama consistently tops the states that approve of the president, the most recent poll showing a 59% approval rate here. In the 2016 election, 62% of Alabama voters — 1.3 million people — cast their votes him. In Tuscaloosa County, 58.4% of voters supported him in the polls.
But not everyone is glad to see the president in Tuscaloosa. An online campaign raised more than $5,000 in less than 12 hours to bring an inflatable caricature depicting Trump as a crying, orange baby wearing a diaper. Organizers plan to set the 20-foot-high, 13-foot-wide balloon as close as possible to the stadium.
Often called "Trump Baby" or "Baby Trump," the first such balloon was flown over Parliament Square in London in July 2018, over a crowd of 100,000 protesters. British creators described the inflatable as a "big angry baby with tiny hands.”
As of 10:30 a.m. Thursday, 369 donors had contributed $7,002 to the $4,000 cost of renting, transporting, setting up and maintaining the balloon. Organizers of the GoFundMe campaign said donations exceeding the needed $4,000 will be donated to Equal Justice Initiative in Montgomery.
"When the news started coming out Monday about Trump's expected visit, I tweeted — half joking, half serious — that I wanted some help to find a track on one of the Baby Trump balloons," said Nic Gulas, who helped organize the campaign. "I had a few people say they would help support financially, and then a couple others make the connection, so I went all in and helped head it up.
"I'm honestly surprised it only took 10 hours for the monetary goal to be made, and the quickness of that is why we've kept it open for donations to EJI. The biggest thing now is finding a place as close as we can possibly get to Bryant-Denny, which may be the most difficult part."
Law enforcement, fire and medics are planning an "all hands on deck" weekend, with most, if not all, of their staff on duty for what's expected to be a large turnout.
Gates open three hours before kickoff at 11:30 a.m., with fans encouraged to arrive well in advance due to increased security.