Photo, above: West Palm Beach resident Mike Sims carries signs to the intersection of Southern Blvd. and Flagler Dr. to wait for President Donald Trump’s motorcade to pass by on the the way to Mar-A-Lago December 31, 2017. Sims and 15 other supporters came out to wave at the President almost every day during his Christmas vacation in Palm Beach, and on December 30 the President sent vans to pick them up and bring them to Mar-A-Lago for a visit. Photo credit: Damon Higgins/The Palm Beach Post

Ordinary people who encounter President Trump wherever he happens to be always gush about how down-to-earth, pleasant, and genuine he is. I have not read or heard a report to the contrary.

Often, President Trump leaves the safety of his armored limo to stop and shake hands with supporters along his motorcade route.

Such was the case on Saturday for “The Trump Squad,” a group of Trump supporters who live near Mar-A-Lago and gather along the route to the resort to greet President Trump when he is in town as he travels to his posh estate which has become known as the Winter White House.

Except, The Trump Squad received more than a handshake. They were invited to visit President Trump at Mar-A-Lago and tour the palatial estate, including hors d’oeuvres in the ballroom with the President.

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About 20 minutes after President Trump’s motorcade passed over of the Southern bridge on its way back to Mar-a-Lago after golf on Saturday, a white van stopped near a group of supporters.

A man stepped out with an invitation that stunned the devoted sign-waiving crowd.

The president would like to meet with you at Mar-a-Lago.

“It stunned me,” said Mike Sims, of West Palm Beach. “I didn’t know what to think.”

Sixteen supporters piled into two white vans for a short drive across the bridge to the president’s private club. No one expected the 90-minute visit to the president’s “Winter White House.”

Boynton Beach resident Donald Tarca  Jr. sets up Trump banners at the intersection of Southern Blvd. and Flagler Dr. while waiting for President Donald Trump’s motorcade to pass by on the the way to Mar-A-Lago December 31, 2017. Tarca and about 15 or so supporters came out to wave at the President each day during his Christmas vacation in Palm Beach, and on December 30 the President sent vans to pick them up and bring them to Mar-A-Lago for a visit.  Damon Higgins/The Palm Beach Post

“I was wearing baggy pants,” bemoaned one supporter of the sudden invite — and the photo she had taken with Trump.

The group went through the usual security sweep by the Secret Service and then met with the president, who was still in his golf clothes and shoes.

He shook hands with the group near the pool and posed with each for photos. A White House photographer also shot pictures. The president gave a short history of Mar-a-Lago, built in the 1920’s by cereal heiress Marjorie Merriweather Post and gave each a magazine about the estate.

Trump bought the dilapidated estate in 1985 and restored it. In 1995 he opened Mar-a-Lago as a private club, which now has about 500 members. Today, Mar-a-Lago has a spa, tennis courts, two pools, putting greens, several dining areas and bedrooms that are available only to members and their guests.

Mary Tulko of Lake Worth was one of 16 Trump supporters invited to Mar-a-Lago on Dec. 30 to meet the president. (Photo courtesy of Mary Tulko)

“He couldn’t have been more down to earth,” said Mary Tulko, of Lake Worth. Tulko said she thanked the president for the big stock market gains this year. “He was just really nice.”

After the meet, greet and photo op, Trump asked his aides to show the group into his living room to see the Christmas tree, and outside, to view the helicopter. They were then invited into the ballroom for snacks: meatballs, watermelon, pigs in a blanket, spring rolls, thick chocolate chip cookies, iced tea and water.

Sims especially liked the water.

“It was a regular water bottle except it didn’t say Zephyrhills, it said Trump,” said Sims, who grabbed one as a souvenier. “It was just a fabulous experience. I will never forget it.”

Donald Tarca Jr., of Boynton Beach, shakes hands with President Trump at Mar-a-Lago. Trump surprised loyal supporters who greet him near Mar-a-Lago with an invitation to his private club on Dec. 30.

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