GREENPORT, NY — As the "MAGA-Gras Trump Truck/Car Parade" gets ready to roll through Riverhead and the North Fork Sunday, a group called "North Forkers for Biden/Harris" are preparing to hold a demonstration to counter the event.
The group said the demonstration is "pro Biden/Harris, pro democracy, justice and truth."
The group is slated to gather on Sunday at the corner of Front and 3rd streets between 12:45 and 1 p.m.
Those attending said they are "standing up for justice and truth."
"On Sunday, September 20, the Trump caravan known as 'MAGA-Gras II' is expected to drive from Riverhead to Greenport, through towns along Route 25 (Main Road)," an event notice said. "To counter the truck caravan driving through our East End towns, organizers request a peaceful demonstration to show our strength and support" for Biden and Harris."
"We want to clarify that supporting Biden means we support the flag, the police and equality and justice for all lives," said organizer Sue Kreiling. "That’s what 'build back better' means.We seek to heal our divisions and build an America that works for everybody."
The second "MAGA-Gras Trump Truck/Car Parade" follows a similar event which took place earlier in September, with parade participants driving from Copiague to Shirley, waving flags and banners.
According to a Facebook post, the event, organized by Shawn Farash, kicks off at 11 a.m. on Sunday. The parade will form at the movie theater lot located at 4000 Jericho Turnpike in East Northport at 10 a.m.
The group will follow Route 25 to Riverhead, where they will head first to 605 Old Country Road. Those who would like to take the second leg will leave from Riverhead and ride Route 25 to Greenport, where they will drive through the village.
Of the Biden/Harris demonstration, Farash said: "Oh, good. We'll be sure to see them. I love when people express their opinions — peacefully. I have no problem with a Biden demonstration. Their choice. If they want to do that, it's fine."
Farash added, "Our turnout versus theirs will be a good indicator of what this election will look like. Chances are their event will end before we reach Greenport."
Plans for the "'MAGA-Gras' Trump Truck Car Parade" headed to Riverhead and the North Fork Sunday have elicited both support and opposition from both sides of the political aisle. But there's another issue that's sparked some concern for many who are worried about what the impact of an influx of cars will mean to area roadways, already congested with traffic.
Some have turned to social media to express their fears that the parade could mean even greater traffic woes than normal during the coming weekend.
"I can understand everyone's concerns," said Southold Town Supervisor Scott Russell. "The traffic this time of year, combined with the threat of a pandemic that has yet to go away, creates a lot of stress."
Russell said Greenport Village Mayor George Hubbard, Southold Town Police Chief Martin Flatley, Southold Town Attorney Bill Duffy and he have all been in regular contact to develop a plan to address any scenarios that may arise.
Southold Town, Russell said, has no ability to regulate a state road, including Route 25.
And, as for the question of whether the event would be sanctioned under coronavirus protocols, Russell said: "Guidelines are issued regularly by the governor's office to outline/amend or clarify activities which are permitted or prohibited by each executive order. Those guidelines stated that parades are allowed, provided participants stay in their car."
Once participants reach Greenport, should any decide to patronize businesses, they are required to follow coronavirus mandates, including social distancing and/or the wearing of masks, depending on the situation, Russell said.
Southold police will be present if either village officials or store owners request assistance with potential situations regarding non-compliance, Russell said.
The supervisor said he has reached out to a New York State representative to see if events such as Sunday's parade have been addressed in the guidance; he waiting for a response.
"But I see nothing in the guidelines that prohibits caravans," Russell said.
Riverhead Town Supervisor Yvette Aguiar could not immediately be reached for comment.
Farash responded to a request for comment: "I see that there are traffic concerns, and for anyone who is concerned about traffic and is in support of our event: If the traffic is of major concern, line the sidewalks and watch us come through. I dislike sitting in traffic more than anyone but with so much at stake in this election, I'd gladly sit in traffic knowing that we're making a difference and being heard/scene."
And, for detractors, he added: "We are just driving. Even Mr. Russell said he doesn't see problems with caravans."
Attendees are asked to come out in support: "Trucks, cars, bikes, flags, hats, and anything else that is in support of our country, our servicemen and women, our veterans, our law enforcement, and our first responders, and of course, our President, is welcome," Farash wrote in a post on the event page. "Once again, if you do not wish to drive the route, come support us from the sidewalks! ... Our first parade went well, judging by everyone's reactions and outpouring of support, as well as the incredible turnout. Let's do it again, on the North Shore, as we make our presence felt. The silent majority — silent no more. Four more years on the table. Let's get it. And rock the world, again."
Although the group initially said they would stop at the Jamesport Farm Brewery, owners of that business nixed the idea.
"We have been made aware that there is an individual named Shawn Farash who is organizing and publicizing a political rally called MAGA-Gras II-Trump 2020 and has listed Jamesport Farm Brewery as the last stop," a post on Facebook by the Jamesport Farm Brewery said. "JFB is not politically affiliated with any group or organization. This is our busiest time of the year and especially with state-mandated COVID 19 restrictions, we do not have capacity and staffing for large groups like this as was advertised by this individual and do close our gates once we reach capacity. We appreciate your support and understanding as we navigate these difficult times."
While a new venue has been chosen, that location has not been disclosed.
Farash made a video in advance of Sunday's event. "They call us the silent majority, but we make noise at the ballot box. We make noise with our votes," he said. "But something changed in 2016. We elected a president who fights for we, the people. Now we, the people, are fighting for him."
Farash added: "The time for silence is over. It's time to take action. And that's exactly what we've done. We've come together in numbers, numbers that are on the rise. Numbers that they can't ignore anymore. This is our country and we're taking it back. The American spirit cannot be held down. We're seeing that; we're living proof of that . And we're not the only ones — there are more of us out there."
And, Farash said, he believes it's just the beginning. "On July 4, 1776, they fought to create our country. On November 3,2020, we fight to save it."
In recent weeks, other events have been held on the East End in support of Trump, including a 'TrumpStock' boat parade, a fishermen's parade in support of Trump and law enforcement, and a "Back the Blue" event meant to thank law enforcement and the military.