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Pro-troops rally happens today

Republicans and others sympathetic to their cause are venturing to Oak Harbor City Beach Park today to rally support for the troops.

“We’re expecting 1,000 people,” said Andy Valrosa, chair of the Island County Republican Party, on Friday.

He added that the rally will start around noon near the A-6 airplane located in the park. Rally-goers will walk along the sidewalk, up Highway 20 to the corner of Whidbey Avenue where last month an anti-war rally was held.

Valrosa added that the rally-goers won’t be doing anything illegal and that traffic will not be blocked.

Steve Almon, Oak Harbor police chief, said there will be two or three extra officers assigned to the area but he doesn’t expect any difficulties.

“I expect this to be a completely peaceful rally,” Almon said.

He added there may be some anti-war protesters on hand today also. The anti-war rally Jan. 18 attracted more than 100 participants, many of them Democrats from all over Whidbey Island. Today, “anti-war, pro-peace” demonstrators will be visible between 11 a.m. and 1 p.m. at highway intersections between Clinton and Coupeville.

Valrosa added that the Feb. 15 pro-military rally date was chosen because it would coincide with another wave of anti-war protests that is expected to take place in major cities throughout the nation.

“We thought it would be a good idea to have it the same day,” Valrosa said.

Officials from the Republican party said they wanted to hold the rally to show there is support for U.S. troops — a message some believe has been drowned out with recent anti-war protests.

Valrosa said last week that he doesn’t want to see the rally become an exclusively Republican event and that anyone who supports the military can participate.

The rally comes one day after the United Nations heard a progress report on weapons inspections in Iraq and began deciding its next move.

Many personnel from NAS Whidbey are presently in the Persian Gulf region or getting ready to be deployed there.

You can reach News-Times reporter Nathan Whalen at nwhalen@whidbeynewstimes.com or 675-6611.

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