Palin's Wasilla picnic draws a crowd
Daily News staff and wire reports
Published: July 24th, 2009 06:21 PM
Last Modified: July 25th, 2009 02:57 PM
WASILLA — Thousands showed up Friday for Gov. Sarah Palin’s annual picnic held in her hometown of Wasilla.
Palin, who is resigning and leaves office on Sunday, used the occasion, one of a series of picnics she is hosting this weekend, to sign autographs and hand out hot dogs.
The governor — dressed in blue jeans and a red New England Patriots sweatshirt — was mobbed by well-wishers who offered up babies, books, calendars, skateboards and even their hands for autographs. Several longtime picnic-goers said this year’s picnic crowd dwarfed last year’s.
Event coordinators planned for about 5,000 attendees. They roasted 4,008 hot dogs and had fixings for about 4,000 root-beer floats.
By the last hour of the event, the dogs were almost gone.
The picnics, which have become more popular in Wasilla since Palin was elected as governor, have previously drawn as many as 2,000 people.
Wasilla Chamber director Lyn Carden said she fielded calls this week from numerous out-of-state travelers who changed their plans to attend in hopes of meeting Palin. Some were interested in one-on-one time with the governor. Others wanted to know if they could buy mementos — such as a lock of Palin’s hair — at the event, organizer Lyn Carden said.
Kealoha Torres, who lives in Wasilla near the park, boosted his 6-year-old daughter, Leina, to his shoulders to get a good photo of Palin handing out hot dogs over the crush of people around the food tent. He said his family members from Washington state were risking missing their flight home to see Palin.
“They don’t care; they want to see her,” Torres said. “She has a lot of supporters in Washington.”
Fred Kostrick, an 84-year-old World War II veteran from Michigan who attended the event, said he appreciated Palin’s support of the military. “I think she’s one hell of a lady,” he said. “She’s tough, she stands her ground and she’s taken a lot of guff — more than I could.”
Saturday, July 25, 2009
Only happiness and fighting spirit at picnic
I'm sure some cynics and Palin bashers out there thought Sarah would be sad, angry, regretful and depressed in her last days in office, but she's the total opposite. She's celebrating Alaska and its citizens with joy, enthusiasm, happiness and a fighting spirit. Thousands of people came to see her at the governor's picnics while she spoke, signed autographs, served hot dogs and gave flags to military families. They were celebrating her, many with signs and t-shirts with Palin 2012 on them. What a send-off!