President Donald Trump’s “working vacation” appears to have interrupted the actual vacations of some 250 children in Randolph, New Jersey.
Counsellors at Tamarack Day Camp were orchestrating a massive surprise for the beginning of their annual camp “colour wars” – a friendly competition between the campers. They planned for months to have skydivers dressed as superheroes swoop down and “rescue” the campers from a group of hired bikers, according to Tamarack Day assistant director Jessica Grannum.
But the camp happens to reside one-tenth of a mile inside the no-fly zone that the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) established during Mr Trump’s trip to New Jersey. The zone bans all flights within a 10-mile radius of Trump National Golf Club in Bedminster for the President’s entire 17-day stay.
The camp claims they had received permission from the FAA to carry out the surprise anyway, but were shut down by the Secret Service at the last minute.
"This morning, we had the FAA clearance, the sky divers were ready on the plane and then the Secret Service shut us down for the no-fly zone," Ms Grannum told BuzzFeed News. "Which was really sad."
Ms Grannum said the Secret Service, the FAA, and the skydiving company – SkyDive Sussex – all discussed the situation in a conference call on Wednesday morning. While the FAA reportedly pushed for the camp to be granted clearance, the Secret Service held firm.
@POTUS Mr. President, Please ask the Secret Service to allow our Sky Divers to fly to Randolph, NJ..to break our Color War..lots of kids 😀— Tamarack Day Camp (@TamarackDayCamp) August 9, 2017
In a series of tweets, the summer camp pleaded with Mr Trump to allow the event to proceed.
“Mr. President, Please ask the Secret Service to allow our Sky Divers to fly to Randolph, NJ..to break our Color War..lots of kids,” reads a tweet from the Tamarack Day Twitter account.
When no one responded to the pleas, the camp was forced to resort to Plan B: Driving counsellors in on fire trucks to “save” the campers. Ms Grannum said the counsellors had to hastily assemble make-shift superhero costumes, as the original outfits were still in possession of the skydivers.
@realDonaldTrump Mr. President, Please ask Secret Service to allow our Sky Divers to fly to Randolph, NJ to break Color War today.— Tamarack Day Camp (@TamarackDayCamp) August 9, 2017
The Secret Service said they strive to “provide a balance between commercial aviation, general aviation, public access and security” when reviewing temporary flight restrictions (TFRs).
“The primary responsibility of the Secret Service is to provide a safe environment for the President,” spokesman Mason Brayman told The Independent in a statement. “Regardless of location, establishing TFRs will present the unique challenge of achieving our stated goal of balancing security with access.”
He added that skydiving is expressly prohibited under the TFR.
The FAA directed requests for comment to the Secret Service.
Other businesses have also complained about Mr Trump’s visit to the small, New Jersey town where his golf course is located.
Thor Solberg, Jr, who runs Solberg Airport in Readington Township, told NJ.com that his airport conducts 60 per cent of its business in the summer months. The Secret Service, he said, has been unrelenting in grounding all of the airport's flights during the President's visits.
Jodi DiPane-Saleem, who operates Central Jersey Airport in Hillsborough, said she is worried about her annual Armed Forces Appreciation Day event.
"It's a big event,” she told NJ.com. “If [the planes] can't get in when Trump's here, my event is shot.”