From NBC's Joey Bell
FAIRFAX, Va. -- Neither the first snow of the winter nor the slushy, untreated roads could deter hundreds of fans from coming here Saturday morning to get a copy of "Going Rogue" signed by it's author, Sarah Palin. The BJ's in the Fair Lakes Shopping Center welcomed hundreds of people to line up and wait for hours to meet the former Alaska governor and vice-presidential candidate.
People came prepared to withstand the elements. Winter coats, umbrellas and most importantly plastic shopping bags, protected their books from the chunky, wet falling flakes. Some cuddled an armful of books for their favorite hockey mom to sign.
The lines stretched down the sidewalk outside BJ's and continued across the street into the parking lot. That part of the line zig zagged multiple times giving the appearance of everyone waiting to experience the newest attraction at an amusement park.
Police and store employees were strategically placed outside to direct traffic and ensure crowd safety. Brian Watson works at the BJ's in Fredericksburg, VA, and was brought to the Fair Lakes store to help with the big event. He was notified about the book signing about a month ago and has been part of the preparation ever since. Watson arrived at 6 a.m. that morning to see dozens of people already in line. He said the very first person got in line the day before at noon, camped out overnight and continued to wait until the signing began that morning at 10 a.m.
Beatriz Garcia and Betty Hall are friends from nearby Chantilly, VA, who got in line at 6:30 a.m. They initially planned to drive four hours to Roanoke, VA, for a book signing there. They changed their minds upon finding out about this one scheduled for Fairfax. Both women have the utmost respect for the way Palin has weathered the criticism she's had to endure during the 2008 campaign and since. They identify with Palin's pursuits in life as a wife and mother with professional ambitions.
Garcia is a registered Democrat who voted for the McCain-Palin ticket because of Palin.
"She's refreshing," Garcia said. "She's a good image for a lot of people."
This, coming from a woman who initially supported Hillary Clinton. Garcia shifted her support immediately over to Palin after Clinton bowed out of the 2008 race for the White House.
Hall noted that Palin may be "rough around the edges," but, like everyone, "has their quirks." This only seems to make Palin more human and relatable to fans like Hall. She was impressed that Palin, her husband and father, took the time to talk to everyone. Meeting the family left Hall with a warm feeling reminding her of another family -- the Reagans.
When asked if she stood in line for hours to see and meet the former vice-presidential candidate, the author, or the future potential presidential candidate, Hall simply responded, "Yes."