Lawrence Chirico was so excited about seeing Donald Trump at First Niagara Center Monday evening he couldn’t sleep.
So he decided to go downtown and wait in line.
At 2 a.m.
He’s the first, and was the only one waiting in line for the rally that starts at 7 p.m. until two high school students from Rochester arrived about 8 a.m.
“It’s truly something special,” Chirico said of the Trump phenomenon that has energized voters.
Ben Frenett of Spencerport, a senior at Allendale Columbia School in Pittsford, and Luke Schiano of Greece, a senior at Aquinas High School in Rochester, arrived outside the doors at First Niagara Center about 8 a.m. This is their second Trump rally, and at the one last week in Rochester they met folks from around the country who had been to more than a dozen.
“It’s an experience we’re never going to have again,” Frenett said.
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Jari Tiebor of Cheektowaga and her friend, who did not want to be interviewed, got to the small line about 8:15 a.m.
“First woman in line for Trump,” Tiebor joked, but she said there are many women supporting the New York City billionaire.
“We’re the typical American. We’re not the rich and famous, we’re not the Hollywood types,” Tiebor said. “Although he may be a billionaire, he has the values that we all have. “
She brought a small stool, and moved it closer to the lawn chairs by Frenett and Schiano. As a few more people arrived, she asked if they minded if she took their picture to post it to her Facebook page.
Silver metal barricades run from the doors on the east end of the First Niagara Center down the plaza along Perry Street. Barricades also line the opposite side of the street.
As a few more people arrived, two men carrying electronic equipment looked for the media entrance to the center.
Chirico, 26, who took the day off from his job in market development at Ingram Micro, brought a chair and a small cooler with some Red Bull energy drinks to keep him going.
He wanted to be first of thousands in line to be close to the stage.
“I need to shake the hand of the next president of the United States,” Chirico said.
He gladly gave interviews on radio and television Monday morning, and had not yet come across any anti-Trump protesters.
“The point is not for me to argue with them. They haven’t seen yet his values and what he stands by. They’ll just never understand it, so it’s really not worth my energy to get in arguments,” Chirico said.
Tiebor told Chirico his mother must be proud of him.
“My mother’s a Democrat,” he said.
“She must still be proud,” she said.
Monday's rally was the third Trump rally for Marc Poole, 43, and son Matt, 17, a junior at West Seneca East High School. They arrived at 8:30 a.m. with recent Trump convert Adam Smithers, also of West Seneca.
Matt says: "I love the rallies. The energy is fantastic."
"We went to Cleveland first and Rochester second," said Marc Poole. "We came here bright and early to welcome Donald Trump and show our support."
Father and son were proud to point out that Smithers is attending his first Trump rally and reviously supported Bernie Sanders.
"I have friends who are still in college," said Smithers, 31. "What they like most about Bernie is the free tuition.
Then, pointing at Matt Poole, Smithers said, "I realize if he gets free schooling, I'm going to have to pay for it. Not that he's a bad guy. But college isn't for everybody."
Lou Michel contributed to this story.