BETHLEHEM, PA — Bethlehem, Pennsylvania was founded by Moravians on Christmas Eve in 1741. The “Christmas City” draws yuletide tourists every year. No wonder Sarah Palin chose Bethlehem for the first stop on her lengthy Christmas book tour.
The Barnes & Noble store that hosted the event was jam-packed. The parking lot overflowed with cars, and people waited in line on a cold autumn evening, with some having been in line twelve hours before the scheduled signing. They were there in hopes of meeting the former Alaska governor and to get their copy of Good Tidings and Great Joy: Protecting the Heart of Christmas signed.
The event was billed to run from at 6 PM-8 PM, but because the crowd was so large the signing went on almost two hours longer than scheduled. Palin seemed as fresh and enthusiastic at the end of the night as she was at the beginning, which was made more impressive because she had spent the whole day doing interviews with various outlets to promote her book.
She sat at a table with her husband Todd and signed better than a thousand books, all while meeting and greeting each person. Those who met her for the first time were ecstatic. Sarah Lukens of Perkiomenville, PA was at the store by 6 AM to secure a book and wristband. She returned in the afternoon, stood in a long cold line, then finally met Palin a couple hours later.
“She is someone I look up to as a young Repubican,” Lukens told Breitbart News. “I think she’s very inspirational.”
Lukens saw Palin speak once before and almost got to see her a second time at a rally that was rained out. This was the first time she actually spoke to her. She admits she was so excited to finally say hello to Palin that she had nightmares about missing the signing. Lukens works at Lehigh Valley Sporting Clays, and she admires Palin’s strong support of our Second Amendment.
Ed Boksam lives right in Bethlehem, and he brought his 14-year-old daughter Jana with him. Both are Palin supporters. “She’s just fantastic,” Mr. Boksam beamed. “She was very encouraging toward my daughter. It was great to see her husband as well.” Although book buyers were shuffled through quickly due to the number of people on hand, Palin took time with each person, especially the young people.
“She is really outgoing and she encouraged me to keep going hard in school and in all my activities,” Jana Boksam said.
A young man with Down Syndrome approached Palin and you could see an unmistakable connection. Palin wrote his name in his book and included a special message. A Christmas gift for the ages.
The store opened its doors an hour earlier than usual to accommodate those who wanted to pick up their books first before returning for the signing. People came from near and far to meet the former GOP Vice Presidential nominee.
The reaction from the crowd toward the Palins was incredible. Smiles were everywhere. The Christmas music that played throughout the event and the twinkling Christmas tree in back of the Palins fit the mood of those in line.
One 19-year-old college student walked out of the signing glowing like a child on Christmas morning. “I’ve liked Sarah Palin since I was 14 when I saw her at a rally,” said Hannah McNally of Quakertown, PA. “I wanted to meet her then… so it was awesome to finally get that chance to meet her.” So what is it about Palin that brings so many people out on a frigid weeknight evening in November? “She’s real. She’s one of the few people I would actually want to see elected in Washington. She’s captivating,” she said.
Sonya Derkits of Whitehall, PA was a little more succinct. “Palin 2016,” she exclaimed.
We’ll have to wait on that one. First thing’s first. An ambitious Christmas book tour that’s off to a rousing start.
Follow Kevin Scholla on Twitter @KevinScholla
photo credit: Shealah Craighead