AUGUSTA — With only two days left before Saturday’s Women’s March on Maine, organizers are scrambling to get everything done.

That’s because interest in the event in Augusta has spiked with the approach of Donald Trump’s inauguration on Friday.

“We had to rework the whole event and make it bigger,” said Meaghan Carlson, one of the six women who have been shaping the march since it was announced late last year. “We’re fielding messages and emails and keeping on top of the event page on Facebook and responding to comments and questions.”

The rally, announced in the wake of the Trump’s election and developed in concert with the Women’s March on Washington that is to take place the day after Trump’s inauguration, had attracted steady interest until the last week or so, when Carlson said interest spiked.

In the weeks before the November election and since then, many people had expressed concerns over provocative statements Trump made during his campaign about immigrants, minorities and women, and the revelation of an audio recording of comments he made in 2005 about his behavior toward women.

Organizers say the rally is not intended to be anti-Trump. Rather, they said, it’s the start of a positive change-and-action-oriented movement.

For Karen Wainberg, of Bath, the event is a chance for her to participate.

“I am an activist, and I have been an activist,” Wainberg said. “I wish I could to go to Washington, but I am not physically able.”

Instead, Wainberg, who said she’s in her 70s, plans to travel to Augusta with a friend who is in her 90s.

“These problems didn’t start with Trump. They started a long time ago,” she said. “I am excited to join women and allies to show the strong outcry against what Trump is proposing and show that the things he values are not the values we have.”

The website for the Women’s March on Washington lists sister marches throughout the nation. In Maine, they’re planned for Brunswick, Eastport, Kennebunk, Portland, Sanford, Surry and Vinalhaven.

After a few speeches, the Women’s Walk in Portland is scheduled to start at 10:30 a.m. at the top of Congress Street on the Eastern Promenade, continue down Congress Street and end at Congress Square Park. The walk is expected to show support for women’s rights, civil rights and human rights.

Kathryn Yates, who started putting together the Portland event in November, said she hopes to draw people from immigrant groups, students, men, women and children.

So, far, she said about 1,000 people have indicated their interest in the 1.5-mile walk.

“I’m just overwhelmed,” she said. “This is the first time I’ve done anything like this. Brave or foolish? I don’t know.”

The Women’s March on Washington Solidarity Vigil in Brunswick is planned for 10-11 a.m. on the Town Mall.

As of Wednesday afternoon, Carlson said, more than 3,000 people had indicated via Eventbrite, an online event-planning site, that they would attend the Augusta march.

With their reservations, a number of people have made donations to support the event. Carlson said that money is being used to hire professionals to set up a stage and sound system and to rent portable toilets.

“We’re getting a lot of attention,” Carlson said. “We’re just going to keep going.”

The event is scheduled to start at 10 a.m. Saturday on the west side of the State House, between the State House and the Burton M. Cross State Office Building. In addition to a slate of speakers, organizations will be there to share information.

Eliza Townsend, executive director of the Maine Women’s Lobby, is not surprised to hear about the interest of older women. Townsend will serve as emcee Saturday, convening the event and introducing the panel of speakers.

“I speak to a lot of women,” Townsend said, “and one of the themes that repeats from women over 65 is they can’t believe they still have to protest these things. They also say, ‘I have been back there, and we’re not going back to life pre-Roe v. Wade,” she said, referring to the U.S. Supreme Court decision that legalized abortion.

Chief Russell Gauvin of the Capitol Police said the event won’t be the largest at the state Capitol, but he expects it to be bigger than most.

“Most of the well-organized ones are in the 500 range,” he said.

Gauvin said he doesn’t expect the Women’s March to attract as many people as the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association drew last August, when about 1,500 people attended a prayer rally led by Franklin Graham in Capitol Park.

Parking is among the chief concerns for people who plan to attend. Gauvin said because the event is begin held Saturday, all the state government lots will be available and the parking garage will be open.

Carlson said organizers are encouraging people to carpool when possible, and for drivers to drop people off before parking.

“Maine Family Planning is planning on hosting a shuttle bus from the parking lot at the Augusta Civic Center,” Carlson said. “That’s a huge thing.”

Because it’s an outside event, there are no restrictions on signs, Gauvin said.

Carlson said she’s heard from people who expect to attend from across the state and from Canada.

“We want it to be a statewide solidarity event,” she said, “and we want to send a message to our own governor that these are important issues to people in the state, and we should come together over our common values.”


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