No, Not That Four Seasons. How Team Trump’s News Conference Ended Up at Landscaping Firm

November 9, 2020by Jeremy Roebuck, Maddie Hanna and Oona Goodin-Smith, The Philadelphia Inquirer
Attorney for the President, Rudy Giuliani speaks to the media at a press conference held in the back parking lot of landscaping company on November 7, 2020 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. The press conference took place at Four Seasons Total Landscaping, a Northeast Philedalphia landscraping firm. (Chris McGrath/Getty Images/TNS)

PHILADELPHIA — What began five years ago with the made-for-TV announcement of Donald Trump’s presidential ambitions from the escalator of his ritzy Manhattan high-rise, ended Saturday with his aging lawyer shouting conspiracy theories and vowing lawsuits in a Northeast Philadelphia parking lot, near a sex shop and a crematorium.

In hindsight, the hastily arranged news conference featuring Rudy Giuliani, the president’s personal lawyer, just minutes after Joe Biden had been declared the victor of the 2020 race, delivered a fitting end to a campaign that had been characterized at times by its slapdash feel.

But the story of how what could be one of the last public gasps a team vowing to reverse the results ended up occurring at a landscaping company in Holmesburg quickly captured the public’s imagination.

It started Saturday morning, with a presidential tweet that, as has often happened during the past four years, Trump’s advisers quickly scrambled to correct.

Trump announced: “Lawyers News Conference Four Seasons, Philadelphia, 11 a.m.,” only to delete his post minutes later and replace it with one changing the venue from the upscale Center City hotel to a similarly named business: Four Seasons Total Landscaping on industrial State Road, next to Fantasy Island Adult Books and Novelties and across the street from the Delaware Valley Cremation Center.

“To clarify, President Trump’s news conference will NOT be held at Four Seasons Hotel Philadelphia,” the hotel’s management tweeted out minutes later. “It will be held at Four Seasons Total Landscaping — no relation with the hotel.”

But by then, many on social media were already delighting in a booking they assumed must have been a mistake.

The New York Times reported Saturday that Giuliani and Trump adviser Corey Lewandowski had always intended the news conference to take place in a section of Philadelphia where they might receive a more welcome reception than at the raucous celebrations of Biden’s victory going on in Center City. It was the president who had misunderstood.

As for why Four Seasons Total Landscaping? Giuliani offered no explanation Saturday and made no mention of the company or its owner, Marie Siravo, during his remarks.

The listed phone number at Four Seasons went unanswered throughout the day, and Siravo did not return calls for comment. Her social media posts indicate she and some of her family members were vocal, but not necessarily unshakable, Trump supporters.

“We don’t need to invite him for dinner,” Siravo posted in August, in response to a “Conservative Hangout” Facebook page that listed Trump’s accomplishments while in office. “We just need him to fix our country & all the democratic mess.” She added that she had been “raised a Democrat.”

In a Facebook post Sunday, the Four Seasons team described itself as a “family-owned small business run by lifelong Philadelphians” that would have “proudly hosted any presidential candidate’s campaign.”

“We strongly believe in America and in democracy,” the message read. It promised it would have merch ready to sell by Monday.

But even the company’s staff seemed somewhat perplexed by their moment in the national spotlight. Kevin Moran, a foreman at the firm, simply shrugged when asked about it while opening the gate to the business’s lot on Sunday.

He said that he believed the campaign had found the business on Google and was interested in it because it was a “secure location” set off from the street by a security fence.

As for the confusion with the hotel, Moran said, “everybody gets mixed up. There’s multiple Four Seasons. Four Seasons Hotel, there’s two Four Seasons Landscaping. We’re ‘Total,’ the other one, I think it’s just landscaping.”

As Giuliani spoke Saturday outside the business against a backdrop of “Trump-Pence” signs, he drew a local crowd of supporters, waving flags and booing reporters as campaign staff called on them to identify what news outlets they were representing. But as news of Biden’s victory spread, the group’s noise was rivaled by the honking horns of cars with “Biden-Harris” signs zipping down the nearby road.

Meanwhile, online, jokes about the locale proliferated. T-shirts popped up for sale featuring Gritty riding a tractor under the slogan “Not the Four Seasons Hotel” and the company’s online reviews took a turn for the zany.

By afternoon, Yelp slapped the business’ page with an “unusual activity alert” and temporarily disabled comments so it could “work to investigate the content you see here reflects actual consumer experiences rather than the recent events.”

On Google, one 5-star reviewer posted: “When I was losing an election back in 2004, I knew exactly where to turn for a desperate, last minute news conference. Four Seasons Total Landscaping has the best combination of gardening and Pennsylvania electoral law litigation services. I didn’t win the election, but I sure had a great news conference.”

Even Lewandowski joined in the fun, tweeting: “All great Americans in PA use Four Seasons Total Landscaping. They love this country and are American Patriots.”

But back on State Road in Holmesburg as the Trump train rolled out for the day, Four Seasons’ neighbors could only shake their heads in bewilderment.

“They didn’t tell us this was happening today,” bemoaned one business owner who spoke only on the condition of anonymity, fearing retribution. “Biden won, get over it. The sun is shining and tomorrow is a new day.”

___

(c)2020 The Philadelphia Inquirer

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