WILDWOOD — Former President Donald Trump drew a massive turnout to his Saturday afternoon rally but city officials and the candidate himself wildly overestimated the number of people who stood on the beach to hear his words.

Mayor Ernie Troiano Sr. on Monday stood by the city's estimate of 80,000 people. But upon questioning, the Republican acknowledged that the 80,000 number was derived by counting people who were not on the beach in front of Trump.

Big turnout for Trump

The event on Saturday became an hours-long event with crowds coming in all day to see the former president speak for nearly 90 minutes at the Lincoln Avenue beach, between Schellenger and Spicer avenues.

The beach is the site of the Barefoot County Music Fest, which packs less than 35,000 fans at a time.

City spokeswoman Lisa Fagan, who told Townsquare Media before the rally the capacity on the beach for the event was 20,000, estimated the crowd to be 80,000 on Saturday.

During his speech, Trump, known for bragging about and even exaggerating the turnout for his appearances, claimed it was 100,000, which immediately drew skepticism on social media.

How did city get the 80,000 estimate?

Troiano said the 80,000 estimate includes everyone in front of Trump on stage as well as everyone who came into the city to be part of the day but never made it to the rally, plus the people on the boardwalk and along Trump's motorcade route.

"You're gonna have 'he says, she said, we said, you said' numbers. We're waiting to see what kind of numbers come back from some of the different sources," Troiano said. "I talked to some people that came into town for the rally but didn't want to go to the rally because they don't like to be around big crowds but wanted to be here because Trump was here."

Between four other events in Wildwood on Saturday, Troiano said the crowd size didn't come close to what the city would see on a summer weekend.

"We're capable of handling big crowds, we're very good at it. And it's just another day in The 'Woods," Trioano said.

ALSO READ: Trump slams inflation, property taxes at massive Wildwood rally

Wildwood mayor Ernie Troiano, Sr family with Donald Trump
Wildwood mayor Ernie Troiano, Sr family with Donald Trump (Ernie Troiano, Sr)
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Rally gives worldwide exposure to Wildwood

Trioano said the rally gave Wildwood world exposure, which will benefit the city in the long term.

"I was just talking to Bob Sahasaylo, executive director of the Greater Wildwood Hotel & Motel Association. He said, 'Ernie, we're getting calls in from Australia, Germany, England, about Wildwood because they saw it on the rally.' That publicity. How do you put a value to that," Trioano said.

No arrests by police were reported.

"I got people telling me that they feared for their kids because these MAGA people raped women and what have you. It just drives me crazy. If you don't you don't like one side or the other don't go make up stories," Trioano said. "It seems like nobody can be respectful to every other person's opinion. You have to agree with everybody or there's something wrong with you or you're a MAGA thug. If Joe Biden wanted to come to Wildwood, we got open arms for him too."

Bud McCormick
Bud McCormick
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