A Sweltering Stop in Windham for Trump
August 12, 2016
by Barbara O’Brien
The crowd of people who showed up at Windham High School on Aug. 6 for the chance to see and hear Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump campaign were treated to a hot Saturday night, with temperatures in the gymnasium said to reach as high as 108 degrees.
The stop in Windham was Trump’s first visit to New Hampshire since he was proclaimed the Republican nominee for president last month. Windham Selectman Bruce Breton said the visit was rather impromptu, but that local emergency services responded very well to the request.
Breton, who is a staunch Trump supporter, said he received a phone call from former Trump campaign manager Corey Lewandowski on Aug. 3, only three days before the rally at Windham High, informing him that “Mr. Trump wants to pay a visit to Windham.” Lewandowski is still active in the Republican Party and is a resident of Windham. Breton took Trump’s request from there, met with emergency service administrators and school district personnel and brought Trump’s request to fruition. During the selectmen’s meeting on Aug. 8, Breton commended the Windham Fire and Police departments for their hard work and dedication in making the event a safe one for everyone involved. “Mr. Trump was very appreciative,” Breton said. “The rally went off without a hitch.”
Trump supporters lined up outside Windham High School; standing in the hot sun for hours before the 8 p.m. get-together was set to begin. Once they were allowed inside, the heat only worsened, however. The gym at Windham High is not air conditioned. The auditorium at the high school does have air conditioning, but was not large enough to accommodate the crowd. Just before Trump stepped up to the microphone, he was heard saying that he felt as if he was in a sauna. It was so sweltering in the gym that some people asked that the lights be turned off. Others questioned why nobody was turning on the air conditioning.
Windham Fire Chief Tom McPherson said he allowed approximately 1,500 people into the gymnasium before closing the doors. The gym actually accommodates about 2,000 people, but because of the heat and the amount of space taken up by the stage from which Trump spoke, McPherson said he needed to lower the attendance. Throughout the rally, people were outside, however, peering in through the windows and knocking on the closed doors. Several people complained of feeling light-headed, dizzy or nauseated and one 16-year-old girl passed out from the heat; falling on the floor in the front row. McPherson said Trump expressed concern and stopped speaking while emergency service personnel tended to the young lady. She was removed from the gym and taken to the air-conditioned library across the hall.
Trump’s campaign will be billed for town and school district services provided during his stop in Windham. Those bills had not yet been tallied by press time, however.