Alan McDonald is a hardcore Texan, and a hardcore Donald Trump supporter.
The 59-year-old construction worker from Houston spent the last week crisscrossing the East Coast on his Harley Davidson motorcycle, linking up with his fellow bikers in support of Trump.
“I started last Friday from Houston, then rode to Pensacola to meet up with my fellow bikers,” said McDonald, who sported a leather jacked adorned with the Texas flag. “We’re a biker family. Just like people love their baseball or their football teams, we love riding our bikes … and we love Donald Trump.”
McDonald, who spent most of his life in Ferris just outside of Dallas, is part of a loosely organized group dubbed Bikers for Trump. He stood along Pennsylvania Avenue waiting for the Inauguration Day parade to begin after several hundred bikers gathered in support of Trump just outside the National Mall.
Digital Access For Only $0.99
For the most comprehensive local coverage, subscribe today.
Bikers for Trump were one of only two pro-Trump groups to hold an official rally in Washington during Trump’s inauguration, and the crowd of mostly middle-aged men in leather jackets made their presence known.
“I hope he [Trump] gets rid of all the illegals,” McDonald said, adding that he welcomes legal immigrants. “They work for 8, 9, 10 dollars an hour and keep the rest of us from getting a job that allows us to pay the bills.”
McDonald, who described his political party affiliation as “redneck,” was happy to ride to Washington to support a president he protected during rallies in Fort Worth and Houston months ago.
Earlier Friday morning, a few of the bikers were involved in the violent protests that bubbled up intermittently around downtown Washington. One biker was hit in the head with a rock after he tried to help a policeman who was being assaulted by violent protesters.
Some of the bikers were unable to see Trump’s speech as protesters successfully cut off a number of checkpoints on the National Mall’s north side, but the chants of Black Lives Matter protesters didn’t faze Matt Krapish.
The 6-foot-7 bail enforcement officer from Baytown ignored the shouts as he sported a big smile to watch Trump become president, his Texas Rangers baseball cap shielding him from intermittent rain drops.
“I’m just an average American,” Krapish said. “There’s something different about Trump that makes the rest of America feel good.”
Kysa George of Austin felt really good after Trump’s speech. “He didn’t use the word ‘I,’ ” George, 48, said. “It was the best speech I ever heard.”
As thousands walked the streets of Washington, Debra Schindler and her daughter Lexi, both of Dallas, stopped at the West Wing Cafe to warm up. They are both ready for Trump’s presidency.
“We were ready for a change,” Debra Schindler, 44, said. She let her 13-year-old daughter skip school to witness history being made.
“In the future, I’ll be able to tell my kids ‘I saw him change the world,’ ” Lexi Schindler said.
Also on hand for the inaugural spectacle were several mayors and other elected officials from Tarrant County.
For Arlington Mayor Jeff Williams, it was an exciting time — and the first inauguration he has seen in person. “There’s a feeling of optimism,” he said after the swearing-in ceremony. “It was a great celebration of democracy. It was really exciting to see the peaceful exchange of power from one party to another. It’s a very patriotic day and it makes you proud to be an American.”
Williams is among the hundreds of mayors from across the country attending the inauguration who were already in town for the U.S. Conference of Mayors in Washington, D.C.
Fort Worth Mayor Betsy Price, who was seated front and center, said she was overwhelmed by the excitement of the ceremony, the cheering crowds, witnessing the transition of power and seeing all the former presidents together on the stage and realizing how far the country has come.
Price, who also attended the swearing in of President George W. Bush, said there were many heart-warming and heart-wrenching moments.
“It gives you goosebumps,” Price said. “When [Trump] first came up to make his speech, it hit you the country is having a major shift in philosophy and power. I thought his speech was very good. He was inclusive and very patriotic.”
Tarrant County Commissioner Andy Nguyen was also in town, specifically to witness the inauguration.
Nguyen, who helped introduce Trump last year at a Dallas rally, was in the standing-room-only area and said he had an amazing experience watching the inauguration.
“My heart pounds,” he said. “There’s an atmosphere of spirituality here. I can feel the presence of generations of Americans. The United States presidential inauguration is a monumental American experience that I hope all Americans get to witness.”
North Richland Hills Mayor Oscar Trevino was also in the standing-room-only area, right behind the section of seats.
“When Trump was giving his speech, it was like a church revival,” said Trevino, who didn’t attend the mayor’s conference but traveled to D.C. with family and friends for the inauguration. “People were clapping and saying, ‘Amen.’ ”
“It was extremely exciting, almost electric,” he said.
Staff writers Anna M. Tinsley and Sandra Baker contributed to this report from Fort Worth; freelancer Ariana Figueroa contributed to this report from Washington; Alex Daugherty reported from Washington.
Alex Daugherty: 202-383-6049, @alextdaugherty