BERLIN — Supporters of Donald Trump came to Stephen Decatur High School on Wednesday excited, they said, at the opportunity to hear the Republican presidential front-runner without the filter of the news media.
They described the real estate developer and reality show star as a candidate who could unite the country.
Jack Morris, 19, praised Trump as a "hardworking, smart individual that wants the best for all people in this country that are allowed to be here."
A few hundred protesters massed in the parking lot of a shuttered Harley-Davidson dealership to decry what they called Trump's hateful message.
Tim Sheppard, 41, an activist from Baltimore, said the Trump supporters — almost all of them white — were not representative of the country as a whole.
"He's doing more separating than unifying," Sheppard said.
It was Trump's first public appearance in Maryland since the start of the primary season.
The line of hopefuls began at the entrance to the high school in Worcester County on the Eastern Shore, turned a corner behind the school, worked its way up the street and finally ended in the scrub of a cornfield. They were there in the thousands to see the candidate.
As soon as Gabrielle Franks heard Trump was coming, she put out a call on Facebook for people to come and join her in protest.
"I hope that they can see past Trump's entertaining facade," she said.
There was little of the violence between the opposing sides seen at Trump rallies elsewhere. Once the candidate arrived, lines of police wearing helmets and wielding clubs lined the road, positioning themselves between the groups until after the rally was over.
A spokesman for the Worcester County sheriff's office said two people were arrested. He did not provide details.
There was some banter back and forth. Protesters chanted "Black lives matter" and "Take your hate and leave our state." Supporters chanted "Get a job" and "Pay some taxes."
Signs included "Shore as hell ain't voting for Trump," "No human being is illegal" and "Dump Trump."
Retired developer Blake Sutherland, 67, was among the most vocal supporters.
"I'm here to enlighten some of these kids," he said. "I like Trump because I think he's the most capable person to make the economy better."
The chants could not be heard out in the cornfield. Fifteen minutes before Trump was scheduled to arrive, Jack Gulyas was the last in line. His chances of getting into the gym were slim, but he retained a faint hope.
"You've just got to show up," Gulyas said. "You never know what's going to happen."
The line shuffled forward a little. As Gulyas waited, people lined up behind him.
When it was clear that there was no chance of getting into the gym, supporters began jockeying for the best spots to get a look at Trump's arrival. A motorcade rolled down the street behind the school and people surged into the street and blocked its way. People crowded one SUV, but there was no sign of Trump.
The mass of people jogged to the back entrance of the school. A television news helicopter hovered above. There was still no sign of Trump.
Cassie Hibble, a retired nurse, had come from Cambridge and waited in line for hours, patiently moving from the cornfield to within sight of the gym doors.
She was disappointed not even to have seen Trump.
"I don't think they thought this many people would show up to support," she said.
As warmup music blared inside the school, a sheriff's deputy escorted three men away from the gym. As they walked into the crowd, Rishon Townsend whipped out his phone and started playing a video. People gathered around excitedly.
There was a moment, Townsend said, when you could actually see Trump.
But it wasn't really clear.
Correction: This story has been updated to reflect the real name of a Donald Trump supporter, who had given a false name to a reporter. The Sun regrets the error.