Sunday, November 22, 2009

Video: Supporters line up hours in advance to see Sarah Palin in Roanoke

Sarah Palin made a surprise appearance Saturday evening at the Valley View Mall Barnes & Noble ahead of her scheduled book signing Sunday morning.

The former Republican vice presidential candidate's appearance to sign her new memoir, "Going Rogue: An American Life," was tentatively scheduled for 10 a.m. Sunday, but supporters who had gathered at the store hours in advance said Palin briefly spoke to the crowd Saturday.

"I was sitting there reading the book and next thing we know she pulls in here," said C.J. Ritchie, of Timberville. "It was like, 'Wow'."

"She got out of the bus and she said, 'I feel guilty that I'm going to a nice warm hotel and you all are out here in the cold. But I just want you to know how much I appreciate you being there for me,'" said Beth Warren, of Franklin County, as she showed off cell phone pictures of Palin's impromptu arrival in her blue "Going Rogue" tour bus.

"I thought that was the sweetest thing," Warren said. Supporters said Palin was joined by her children and mother.

A post on the the former Alaska governor's Twitter page said, "Landed in VA/swung by overnight campers to say 'thx & we'll see u again tmorrw!'."

By midnight Sunday, a line approximately 300 people long stretched sidewalk-to-sidewalk from Barnes and Noble to Panera Bread. Supporters with Snuggies, sleeping bags and thermoses of hot coffee did their best to stay warm in the 38 degree frigid air. Nearly every shivering fan was reading through a copy of Palin's memoir, which attendees were required to purchase in advance from the store.

Sun Hee, who remained as the first person in line by midnight Sunday, said she arrived to stake out her position about 8 a.m. Saturday.

"The store wasn't even open," Hee said.

Palin's book signings around earlier this week routinely drew more than 1,000 spectators each, according to media reports.

Related video: More than 1,000 fans greet Palin at Roanoke Barnes & Noble

Full story: Sarah Palin: Up close, in person and in Roanoke