When former Alaska governor Sarah Palin visited The Villages in 2008, more than 30,000 people turned out.
Emotions ran high for good reason—The Villages was Palin’s first public appearance since her nomination as the Republican Party’s Vice Presidential candidate.
The crowd at her book-signing engagement Monday at Barnes & Noble was more modest—about 500.
A Barnes & Noble manager who asked not to be named wouldn’t estimate the crowd size—that’s against corporate policy—but admitted the store did not hand out all 750 arm bands on hand for the event.
That didn’t bother Villagers stood in line for upwards of two hours to shake the hand of the conservative icon and get her signature on a fresh copy of Good Tidings and Great Joy: Protecting the Heart of Christmas.
The $13.92 price tag was modest as well.
For Tony Ferraro, a Long Island transplant who moved to The Villages two years ago it was the deal of a lifetime.
“I got three brand new copies,” Ferraro said. He had brought his own dog-eared copy for the signing but the Barnes & Noble staff exchanged it for a fresh copy and he purchased two more for his daughters.
“I guess she doesn’t signed used books,” Ferraro mused.
For almost two hours she greeted each guest enthusiastically, right up to the end: bright smile, perky voice, and 15 seconds of friendly chatter that ranged from “where are you from?” to “how long have you lived here?”
Roy Lepire of the Village of Hemingway was out at 2:45 a.m. today to get in line to see Sarah Palin.
“She is fresh, bright, charming, vibrant,” he said.
Roy was in line with snacks, a chair and his phone.
He moved here from Huntington Beach, Calif.
Writer Jane Bloom contributed to this report.