FORT PIERCE — Those wishing to travel downtown Friday — when Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton will be at the Sunrise Theatre — should allow extra time, a Fort Pierce police spokesman said Thursday.
Clinton on Sunday announced a campaign stop in St. Lucie County, and on Wednesday announced the event would be 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. at the 1,200-seat historic theater on South Second Street. Doors for the event open at 9:30 a.m., according to Clinton’s website. She’s expected to arrive on the Treasure Coast at the Vero Beach Regional Airport.
It’s the first time a presidential candidate has appeared at the Sunrise Theatre, said John Wilkes, the theater’s executive director.
Seating for the event, which is open to the public, is available on a first come, first served basis. A ticket is not required.
“It obviously is going to be a busy day downtown,” said Ed Cunningham, police spokesman. “We expect a crowd. We expect a large crowd.”
Wilkes said Thursday he met with Clinton’s advance team Wednesday afternoon.
“They had toured a number of venues in the county and we spent about an hour and a half with them,” Wilkes said. “They toured the building and we got a call about an hour later (about 5:30 p.m.) saying that they’ve selected the Sunrise.”
He suggested that those who want to attend the event arrive very early, noting there will be a security check at the door.
“I’d probably come a couple of hours early just to get a parking space and get to the theater in order to get in line,” he said.
Cunningham said people can expect delays and should plan accordingly. He suggested allowing extra time for their commute.
“The Secret Service is in charge of the whole incident and we are available to assist them,” he said.
Wilkes said the Clinton campaign is paying $2,100 for the facility rental and any extra costs will be added on top of that.
Officials with the St. Lucie County Sheriff’s Office and Secret Service went through the building Wednesday night, Wilkes said.
“They were back in the building (Thursday) loading in her backdrops.”
He said there is no special treatment for anyone — the rally is not part of the theater season ticket holder package. There is no assigned seating.
A Clinton aide said local and state leaders would speak before Clinton, but it’s not clear who those speakers will be.
Doris Tillman, manager of Main Street Fort Pierce, said she thinks the event will bring lots of people downtown.
“I think we’ll see a lot of people in restaurants, people walking around, checking out downtown hoping to get a glance at her,” Tillman said. “I think most of all for us, it’s just quite an honor that the Sunrise was chosen.”
Tillman said she feels the same way about Clinton’s visit to the Sunrise as she did when other top artists performed there, such as Diana Ross, Ringo Starr and Dionne Warwick.
“Those are all big names, and it’s nice that the Sunrise has the chance to showcase the building,” she said.
The St. Lucie County Sheriff’s Office is to help the Secret Service with traffic control and site security.
Earlier this week, Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump spoke in Melbourne at the Orlando Melbourne International Airport. The Tuesday evening event drew thousands.