— Jorge Ventura Media (@VenturaReport) December 19, 2020
What they said before the event, per Vanity Fair:
… After covering Turning Point’s West Palm Beach bash in past years, I’ve concluded that “right-wing Coachella” is the most accurate way I’ve heard the conference described, encompassing the big-name lineups; the huge crowds of young people, many of whom travel hundreds of miles to be there, documenting every moment and every celebrity sighting on Instagram; the meticulously planned outfits, including Lilly Pulitzer elephant-pattern dresses and skirts paired with pearls, or tucked-in Trump campaign T-shirts; and the drunken, after-hours debauchery that goes on until the bars close, at which point students often go to pools or file into packed hotel rooms to continue drinking.
With COVID-19 case numbers in the U.S. reaching record highs, this week recording more than 247,000 cases and over 114,000 hospitalizations, Turning Point spokesman Andrew Kolvet assured the Palm Beach Post earlier this month that organizers are “reacting and adjusting our plans on the fly as information becomes available” and said that the group has made a “sizeable investment” in personal protective equipment, adding that students will be encouraged to only eat with and spend time around their respective pods, i.e. the group of attendees they are rooming with. In other words, Turning Point is employing a similar mitigation strategy that universities relied on, only to learn that telling thousands of young people to stay away from each other doesn’t work out well. (The New York Times reported last week that more than 397,000 coronavirus cases have occurred on college campuses since the pandemic began, an explosion that sometimes led to students bringing the virus back home.) Kolvet described the situation as “fluid,” and emphasized that “the national conversation was different” when the event was planned. Still, he argued that so many students are still eager to attend despite the ongoing pandemic because “kids want to get out—they know they’re not a super vulnerable cohort so there is probably a little more willingness to go out.” …
What they found when they got there, per the local CBS-12 news team:
Palm Beach County officials are blaming Turning Point USA (TPUSA), a popular group for conservative college students, for overselling tickets to its Student Action Summit and leaving hundreds of students stranded outside the Palm Beach County Convention Center Saturday night.
Turning Point USA is denying that.
Tweets from attendees show a large crowd of students outside the convention center shouting “let us in.” Several posts and online articles blamed the City of West Palm Beach, which does not own or operate the convention center, for changing the capacity requirements at the last minute. Palm Beach County owns the convention center that is hosting the event.
County Administrator Verdenia Baker told staff Saturday night that Turning Point had “oversold their contract capacity by 500-600 people,” according to communications obtained by CBS 12 News. The county administrator went on to say “the Convention Center is adhering to the contractual agreement with Turing Point of a 2,000 person capacity; this leaves 500-600 people unable to enter the Convention Center.”
A Turning Point spokesperson tells CBS 12 News there was no contract that explicitly restricted the venue to a 2,000 person capacity, but the agreement did allow the venue to change capacity at any time. The spokesperson said the convention center stopped allowing attendees to pick up badges, which caused the outdoor backup. They added that had attendees been able to pick up badges, they would have been directed to “overflow contingency plans.”
The spokesperson added that outdoor overflow spaces will be provided Sunday to adhere to COVID protocols.
CBS 12 News asked when TPUSA knew of the 2,000 person capacity restriction and is waiting to hear back…
Attendees posted on Twitter and Instagram Saturday night, blaming the city or in some cases county health officials for what they perceived as suddenly halting entries into the convention. A group of students even marched to City Hall in West Palm Beach to protest the convention center’s closure…
Even if they can’t mob the convention center hoping to get selfies with ‘luminaries’ like Donald Trump Jr., Ted Cruz, and Seb Gorka, the young SASers have a new indignity to document on social media for each other. And such material, as Jane Austen might say, must be a consolation to people who so enjoy being outraged…
— Benny (@bennyjohnson) December 20, 2020