I've lived in Miami through three Presidential administrations... Bush, Obama, and now Trump.
Presidents come into town at least every six months, and as candidates, much more often for obvious reasons. Normally I've anticipated these visits with dread, as traffic is ceased for a score of square miles. So, I have never ventured off to go see the spectacle that takes place around a visit here from the leader of the free world. But, lately I've had a little extra time on my hands. I have a bicycle and I live in a neighborhood close to Miami's iconic cultural venues, where Presidents usually make their appearances. Little Havana is a popular destination for our commanders-in-chief. Here they can cozy up to an ever expanding legion of Hispanic voters. Now, it was June 2017 and the President was coming to announce his Cuba Policy.
With Little Havana just blocks away from my Coconut Grove lair, I went to experience a Presidential motorcade for myself. I didn’t know what to expect. I figured there might be protesters, given President Trump's "popularity." But, instead of going to the Manuel Artime Theater where the President would be signing his restrictive policies toward Cuba, I peddled over to a corner on N.W. 12th Avenue where the motorcade was going to turn and head west down N.W. 7th Street, back toward the Miami Airport and Air Force One. Believe it or not, I was the only pedestrian on that corner which was surrounded by police tactical units and countless motorists now resolved to the fact that they were stuck until the ordeal passed. They should have known better, although - as designed - Presidential motorcades can take a number of planned routes so as not to telegraph a single one to any would-be assassins.
After listening to thirty minutes of police dispatches emanating from some loudspeaker near me, barking instructions from on-high to the large contingent of officers controlling this pivotal spot in the President's exit route, I began to hear and see the official entourage coming up 12th Avenue, precisely in the direction of my vantage point right smack on the curb. The cushion of security was thick. Overhead was a helicopter and bearing down on me was a long, speeding line of black SUVs with darkened windows, police cruisers and motorcycles, vans holding the press corps, and emergency vehicles. Protected by the phalanx were the limousines transporting our Heads of State.
The sirens were blaring. The police and Secret Service were armed to the hilt. As the limousines approached just feet from where I stood, I began to wave emphatically. From one of the first limousines, adorned with little American flags rapidly fluttering from each front fender, I saw the unmistakable visage of President Trump. His iridescent coif shining through the slightly-tinted window facing my side of the street. His head turned toward me. His hand went up and waved back at me. The exact same thing happened a moment later when Vice President Pence's limousine swung beside me following the rest of the convoy. Pence acknowledged my presence, as well.
After that, the police unit manning my corner quickly dispersed and traffic began to flow in this part of the big city again. I mounted my ride. My heart beating with a mixture of pride and terror.