Donald Trump’s first visit to Mar-a-Lago as president coincides with a Red Cross charity event at his lavish estate that is expected to draw protests.
Trump, who promised never to take vacations, will be working at the mansion.
“On Friday, the president will depart from this White House to the winter White House down at Mar-a-Lago, where he’ll spend the weekend and be holding meetings,” White House spokesman Sean Spicer told reporters.
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The White House on Wednesday did not release details about Trump’s schedule, including if he will attend the International Red Cross Ball on Saturday evening. Protesters are organizing a “March to Mar-a-Lago for Humanity” to coincide with the ball, which is often held at the estate.
But holding the gala at Trump’s estate has created a thorny situation this year for the Red Cross, which has offered aid to refugees affected by Trump’s moratorium on the refugee program.
“The Red Cross is dedicated to alleviating human suffering,” protest organizers wrote on Facebook. “If Obamacare is repealed, it will be a disaster; 30 million Americans will be left suffering without health insurance. The Muslim ban, moratorium on accepting Syrian refugees, immigrant deportation policy, stance on reproductive rights, etc. will cause AVOIDABLE suffering around the world.”
The Red Cross remains impartial and had no position on Trump’s moratorium, spokeswoman Elizabeth Penniman told the Herald.
The gala was planned at Mar-a-Lago many months ago, before Trump won the presidency. Penniman said Trump has attended in past years, although she doesn’t know if he will attend this year.
The event, now in it’s 60th year, has been held the majority of the years at Mar-a-Lago, including when the event was first founded and held when the Mar-a-Lago estate was owned by Marjorie Merriweather Post.
“She hosted it there from the very beginning, and she was huge supporter of the Red Cross, so that’s it’s origin,” Penniman said.
About 500 to 700 people are expected at the Red Cross event. Penniman said that the site hasn’t yet been chosen for next year, but in some years it has been held at The Breakers resort.
Protesters initially planned to gather at Trump Plaza in West Palm Beach and then march to Mar-a-Lago, but after 1,700 people responded on Facebook that they plan to attend, organizer Alex Newell Taylor said they might change the route. Organizers asked that protesters bring glow sticks and flashlights.
“We want to shine so bright, we will be seen from a far and from above,” states the Facebook post.
Trump’s visits have created expensive headaches and transportation challenges for local government. The county asked members of Congress to help it get $7 million in federal funds, and the Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Office estimated Trump’s Thanksgiving visit to the island cost about $248,000 in overtime.
Earlier this month, the Palm Beach Town Council gave Trump permission to take off and land at Mar-a-Lago via helicopter during his “term(s) in office,” to alleviate motorcade traffic.