Residents, businesses survive Trump rally

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Marcia Nelesen
Tuesday, March 29, 2016

JANESVILLE--It was all-you-can eat wings day at Quaker Steak & Lube, but at about noon Tuesday owner Scott Acker stood sentinel over a mostly empty parking lot.

Hundreds of people milled around just down the street for the Donald Trump rally at the Holiday Inn Express, and he was watching to make sure they didn't squat in his parking spots, leaving none for customers. And many customers appeared to be thinking twice about fighting the crowds to dine that afternoon.

Still, Acker felt forced to double-staff, not knowing the effect on his business during or after the rally.

Acker did offer parking for $40, $20 if the customers ate at his restaurant.

An employee also dressed as a chicken went into the crowd, offering to-go orders.

“No customers,” he said to someone who stopped to talk. “(Billionaire) Donald Trump is taking my money.”

“I'm just trying to sell chicken wings,” Acker added.

Next door, vendors used the back area of Fuddruckers parking lot to sell Trump and even Star Wars memorabilia. The owner, who was out of town, hired someone to manage the parking lot and maintain order, a manager said.

Inside, it was business as usual with a typical amount of diners, she said.

Just up the block, Ricky Whitehead-Anderson waved an orange stick, policing the semi-truck entrance to Janesville Travel Center. He is a maintenance worker there and began work at 11 the night before.

“It's been crazy,” he said. “Everyone's putting in extra hours.”

Wendy's was enjoying a bit of extra business as supporters and protesters toted their signs into the bathroom and then some stopped for soda or food.

“There's a lot of nice people in here,” said Carol Schumacher, general manager.

Nearby, Geoffrey Soeder balanced on his bike and watched the comings and goings. He lives in the neighborhood and decided to check out the show because he had never seen a presidential campaign event before, inside or outside.

In the surrounding blocks, residents dealt with an influx of traffic, blocked streets and cars parked bumper-to-bumper for blocks on both sides of the street. One apartment complex warned anyone other than residents that their cars would be towed.

Down the block, Davis Citgo Service was indeed towing a car away.

“It's a circus," complained one apartment complex manager who did not want to give his name.

He pointed to a car parked in front of the mailboxes. He also was frustrated about the money the event will cost taxpayers.

“It's crazy,” said resident Ardyth Halverson, walking home after snapping some photos of the goings on.

The bright side? Nobody was at the grocery store when she shopped earlier that day. On the other side, she had to detour to make it home. She was staying put until things calmed down.

Meanwhile, Adylie Hoff, 5, literally turned lemons into lemonade. She raked in $73 selling drinks to the throngs passing by her home on Midvale Drive. Her aunt Allyson Walters, 16, had the idea.

Kindergartner Adylie got an extra day of spring break because her mom, Rachel, worried about getting through the congestion to collect her daughter from school.

They will use half the profits to buy a science equipment kit. The other half? They'll donate to a charity Donald Trump does not like.

Reporter Jake Magee contributed to this report.

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