How does one begin to describe the experience of 1800+ people who turned out to see Sarah Palin. My latest adventure began when Billy and I traveled five hours to sleep in the cold (30-40 degrees) to wait in line for a chance to see Sarah and have our copies of Going Rogue signed. We arrived at the Valley View Mall in Roanoke Virginia at 5 pm on Saturday November 21,2009. To our surprise there were already two dozen people in line in front Barnes and Noble, some of whom had chosen their spots as early as 8 am. By 7:00 pm, there where at least 150 people with lawn chairs, sleeping bags, heavy coats and big smiles.
To me all of this seems more like a line for concert tickets then a book signing! As the night went on, Billy and I distributed fliers for 2012 Draft Sarah Committee and talked to the many others who were dedicated enough to wait it out. I also spent the time twittering my experience and talking and texting with friends back in Wasilla. At 9:44 pm I tweeted:
“@SarahPalinUSA 200+ r waiting 4 u n Roanoke. Been passing out 2012 draft sarah info since 5:30 pm.” 9:44 PM Nov 21st
Sarah was also tweeting about all of the places she was visiting, here is one of her tweets:
At 11:00 pm we all got a huge surprise! Billy and I were standing in the parking lot talking, I happened to look up and saw Sarah’s bus. We watched it drive into the parking lot. The bus pulled up to the side walk and out came Sarah with Trig, Piper and her mom and dad. She had come to see us! She told us that she felt guilty because she was going to be sleeping in a warm hotel room and that WE were the real patriots for sleeping outside waiting for her. She stayed for only a brief moment but in that moment she changed the crowd. We were already all excited but now people were exchanging email addresses and phone numbers so that they could share pictures and keep in touch with their “neighbors” from the mall. Why did they do this? Sarah Palin showed us that she is listening, she is paying attention to us. In those few minutes during her surprise visit she changed lives.
(picture courtesy of Amy Sorrell)
Later on that night Sarah tweeted again:
With her short but unexpected visit, Sarah Palin shows this crowd of average citizens that we do mean something, that we are important and we should be taken seriously. This is why people on the far left are so afraid of her, we connect with her. She is a reachable person. She is not hiding behind a façade like many of our elected officials.
Sarah Palin is a polarizing figure not because of a title she holds but because of who she is and what she stands for. I have met Sarah before and it was very interesting for me to watch others in the crowd who had not had that privilege. I saw people ranging in age from 2-92 waiting for the experience to meet Sarah. I made new friends and talked with people from all walks of life. Believe or not, but I even met and became friends with a reporter! A conservative reporter at that! I even talked Cheryl into wearing for “Go girl” Sarah Palin button along with her press badge. (That was a hoot!)
At 5:30 am on Sunday, November 22, 2009, the staff of Barnes and Noble as well as the advanced team staff began to line the crowd up in order to distribute wristbands and tickets for the event. The staff did an awesome job because this was no easy task, it was much like trying to herd cats! Once we received our wristbands and tickets, we lined up once again to await Sarah’s arrival. Billy and I stood in line for what seemed like forever. At 9:55am Billy and I will 98 of our “friends” entered B&N. At 10:00 am, the bus delivered Sarah Palin and her family to the front door. She shook a few hands and the signing began. As I waited in line inside the door I got to meet Aunt Katie. That is Sarah’s Aunt Katie. She walked down the line saying “Thank you for supporting my niece.” She is just as nice and humble as the rest of the Palin/Heath clan. After a short wait I was standing in front of Sarah wearing my Valley Republican Women’s Club shirt, she looked up at me and said “where did you get that shirt?” I smiled and shook her hand and told her that I was in Wasilla last summer to which her smile got bigger. That was my two seconds! But that wasn’t why I went. It wasn’t about talking to Sarah. It was about the experience, the adventure. I was about being in the company of people with similar interests, morals, and convictions.
After I gathered my two signed copies of Going Rogue, I walked over to talk to Vets4Sarah.net and his wife. They are a very nice couple who believe in limited government and the power of the people. We talked about our trips to Alaska over the summer and what we could do to continue to draw attention to the 2012 Draft Sarah Committee. I think that I handed out around 300 flyers and business cards.
I walked out of B&N with Cheryl and we met up with Billy in the parking lot. The experience was over or so we thought. We walked over to the book tour bus to take a few more pictures and as we rounded the back of the bus saw Sally and Chuck Heath signing books for a small group of supporters. I walked over to them and immediately they saw my shirt. Chuck smiled and pointed at it and I reminded him about our conversation about science in Wasilla. Sally and I hugged and talked about my visit last July and about getting together when I visit Wasilla again in July 2010. This is another nice surprise. We talked for about 5 minutes. Billy, Cheryl and I took some pictures of the bus and decided to go across that street to I HOP for breakfast.
The excitement of the day was starting to come down a little once we got in the car. But the surprises were not over yet. As we waited for a table at I HOP, A young woman came over to me and starting asking about my VRWC shirt. Come to find out, this young woman is from Wasilla! She is attending college in Virginia and drove to Roanoke with the hope of seeing Bristol. She and Bristol are good friends. We all had a nice talk about life in Wasilla for a teenager and the fact that Sarah is just Sarah! It was so very refreshing to talk to this young woman and to have her confirm everything that we felt about Sarah Palin. Sarah is just Sarah. This is the phrase that the left should fear. Sarah Palin is not a member of an elite circle, not from a wealth family, and yes…she has had to work her way up from the bottom and she did it all on her own.
Sarah Palin has strong character, she has ideas, and she has support… three things that many, if not all, on the left are lacking. Sarah Palin is a private citizen who has done more to shape the topics currently facing the nation then the elected “elite” have. Go Sarah Go! You have our support and we have your back!