WASHINGTON – Before Donald Trump was elected president, before “antifa” became a household term and before the FBI classified Insane Clown Posse music fans as a gang, Christy Coyne and Kevin Bobsein met at a military base in Kuwait.
The year was 2010. He was a computer engineer with the government. And she worked in academic support for a university that provided higher education on the base.
The nonmilitary Americans on the base stuck together, and Bobsein, 33, asked for her number one day when they saw each other eating. She nearly ripped a page out of the book she was reading to write it down, but he told her not to ruin the book, and she knew right then she liked him. They went to a local flea market together on their first date where they ate sandwiches and saw everything from used underwear to furniture for sale. They traveled to Dubai, Jordan and throughout Europe together and now live in a cramped apartment in Washington, D.C., with their 18 pound cat, Mr. Miyago.
But one of the more unusual events they may experience together may unfold right in their backyard – on their wedding day.
The couple is planning their Sept. 16 wedding at the D.C. War Memorial – an idyllic and popular wedding location that on this particular day will be nestled between a pro-Trump rally, a rally for Insane Clown Posse fans and charity events. Insane Clown Posse fans call themselves Juggalos and are more known for wearing clown face paint and outrageous antics than blending into idyllic wedding locales.
“I figure they’re humans, they’ll be OK, they’ll see it’s a wedding and stay away,” Bobsein said. “Or, who knows, maybe it’ll make for good photos.”
“I laughed I was like, Oh my gosh, half of my family is afraid of clowns,” said Coyne, 38. “Everyone’s just rolling with it, there’s nothing we can do about it.”
The couple applied for the $90 National Park Service permit to have their wedding at the D.C. War Memorial in March. At the time, they knew there would be other events on the Mall, but didn’t know just how many they would be, or how ridiculous they would sound to their out of town guests.
The National Park Service says Sept. 16 is one of its busiest days of the year, with more than 30 groups and people seeking permits for events on federal park space across the District. The events include protests, charity races, group exercise classes and two weddings at the D.C. War Memorial.
The pro-Trump “free speech” rally dubbed the Mother of All Rallies will take place near the Washington Monument. The Juggalo rally, which is protesting the FBI’s 2011 classification of the group as a gang after crimes were committed by people who identified as Juggalos, will start near the Lincoln Memorial, according to Park Service permits issued to the group. More than 3,000 Juggalos are expected to attend.
Another anti-Trump rally will unfold near the White House. The D.C. War Memorial is in a secluded area near the Washington Monument.
Bobsein and Coyne said a National Park Service employee alerted them in June that their wedding coincided with the Juggalo rally and asked them if they wanted to change dates. By then, it was too close to the wedding date, and they decided to stay put. They say they don’t expect any issues or interruptions during their short afternoon ceremony, but conceded that all the hubbub on the Mall could make it a little noisy.
They acknowledge that they did start looking into the Juggalos gang classification when they learned their wedding coincided with their protest. Though they had never listened to any Insane Clown Posse music, they do sympathize with their mission.
“I support their cause, it seems ridiculous,” Coyne said of the FBI gang classification. “Let them be.”
The ceremony will be less than an hour, in the middle of the afternoon, with a fairly quick exit so they can clear out in time for another wedding later in the afternoon. They plan to take professional photos at the memorial, and then head to their reception in D.C.’s Brookland neighbourhood.
Their 150 guests could interact with some of the protesters as they find Ubers and cabs to take them across town to the venue, where local pizza, beers and a DJ await them.
“Our goal is just for everyone to have a good time, a lot of drinking and a lot of dancing,” Bobsein said.
The U.S. Park Police wouldn’t discuss its security plan for the day, but said the agency is prepared for all the events.
The Juggalos said they expect their event to be peaceful and don’t plan to interact with any of the political protesters.
“We will definitely try to walk around the weddings,” Jason Webber, an organizer of the Insane Clown Posse rally, said in an interview last month. But, he added, “Juggalos make excellent wedding guests.”
Bobsein said they plan to have a very D.C. celebration. Their reception will be catered by Petworth’s Timber Pizza, and the “godmother” of D.C.’s popular bocce ball leagues will be officiating the wedding ceremony. (Bobsein and Coyne are big bocce ball players.) So all the events on the Mall happening at the same time as their wedding will just be part of it.
It is not clear if any of the protest groups plan to confront their opponents during the day. And while the couple didn’t want to get into politics, they said they haven’t participated in any protests in the Trump era and do not plan to start on their wedding day. But, they said, their wedding will be open to two D.C. guests even though they never officially sent an invitation to them.
“If President Obama and Michelle want to stop by, they are welcome to,” Bobsein said.