Several hundred protesters gathered along four blocks of the West Side Highway on Thursday evening to deliver a simple message to Donald Trump on the occasion of his first presidential visit home: "New York Hates You." That chant—along with boos, hisses and a few kazoos—greeted the president just before 7 p.m., as his motorcade pulled into the pier beside the Intrepid for a benefit dinner and meeting with the Australian Prime Minister.

Some protesters, carrying signs that read "This Village Doesn't Want Its Idiot Back" and "City to Trump: Drop Dead," had been waiting all afternoon, as Trump's initial visit was delayed hours earlier to celebrate the passage of American Health Care Act. A scheduled appearance at the Peninsula Hotel on 5th Avenue, where one of the day's three planned protests planned to meet, was cancelled as well—much to the disappointment of some in the crowd.

"He avoids everything—the draft, two presidential debates, and now he's avoiding New York," said James Noone, a Jackson Heights resident who'd been waiting for Trump in midtown. "But we still want to let the world know that anytime he comes to New York, he's going to get a very rude welcome."

Several others in attendance also seized on Trump's three-month absence from New York, which they interpreted both as sign of an effective resistance and as evidence that the president's ideals were at odds with the city that made him famous. "New York is a place where I can talk to people who don't look like me, where I can get different viewpoints and know that I'm not absolutely right," Valerie Crain, a retiree based in midtown, told Gothamist. "But he doesn't do that. He doesn't want to do that."

Trump, who is on pace to surpass Obama's entire travel spending in his first year, told Fox News last week he avoids New York because "going back is very expensive for the country."

For at least a few people waiting outside the Intrepid, that justification rang true. "Our president is busting his ass for us, not sleeping, and he has to see this negative hate shit when he comes home," said Elisa Nohoum, an entrepreneur from Bayside, and one of the dozen or so Trump supporters in the crowd. "It makes me sick, like it's not my country anymore."

Throughout the afternoon, the pro- and anti-Trump camps exchanged impassioned words, leading to a few brief altercations. At one point, as pro-Trump protesters tried to edge closer to the Intrepid—"so the president can see our flags," according to Nohoum— a small shoving match broke out, which police officers quickly ended. As cops sequestered the groups into separate pens, an NYPD officer was overheard saying, "I feel bad for the Trump people, but it's kind of like the early bird gets the worm."

Still, the anti-Trump faction wasn't completely deprived of targets while awaiting the president, as some of those with tickets to the benefit were forced to pass alongside the protest pens en route to the Intrepid Air and Space Museum. That small walkway soon came to be known as the "walk of shame," as guests who passed through, easily spotted in tuxes and gowns, were loudly condemned by the crowd.

Many protesters seized on this forced interaction to grill the well-dressed benefit attendees on their support for the Republican healthcare plan, which had passed in the house by a narrow margin earlier in the day. "I consider what happened today tantamount to mass murder," said Scott Levine, an artist manager in Astoria, over loud boos aimed at two benefit guests. Levine noted that cuts to Medicaid—880 billion over the course of 10 years, a 25 percent reduction—could be devastating for those living in New York. "Anyone who voted yes to this today is toast," he added. "Goodbye. Don't let the door hit you on the way out."

Levine's sentiment was shared by many on Thursday, both in and outside the pens. At around 5 p.m., 3 women visiting New York from Washington state were told by a police officer that, due to security around the protests, they'd be unable to cross over to the west side of the highway. Asked if they were frustrated by the demonstrators, one of the tourists, Jessica Beckstrand, said that she had other concerns.

"I'm more frustrated with the fact that they're trying to take our health care," Beckstrand said, sharing that her three-year-old daughter Layla suffers from a rare form of cancer known as neuroblastoma. "She's already a $3 million baby—that's just within the last 18 months—and she'll have the rest of her life fighting off chemo and transplants. So, I don't know what's going to happen next, but it kind of scares the shit out of me."

When asked if they planned on joining the protesters, the women said that wasn't really their thing. "But, I mean," Beckstrand's friend noted, "if we're here anyway, I guess we might as well check it out."