Hundreds of people flooded Joseph-Beth Booksellers in Lexington on Wednesday night to meet Sarah Palin, who visited the store to sign copies of her book America By Heart: Reflections on Family, Faith and Flag.
The book, Palin's thoughts about the future of the United States and words from those she finds most inspiring, was released Nov. 23, about a year after her best-selling memoir, Going Rogue.
To get one of the 500 vouchers available for places in line, customers had to buy a copy of the book from Joseph-Beth. Each person could bring two copies of the book for Palin to sign, Joseph-Beth employees said.
The vouchers, labeled with letters A through W, were gone long before the event.
Ticket-holders couldn't see Palin as they waited, and they were required to leave their belongings with Joseph-Beth employees before entering the curtained area where Palin sat. Many said she came across as open, friendly and down-to-earth. She wore a black jacket, dark skirt, white scarf and high-heeled black boots.
Kaye Hughes of Lexington brought her daughter Kacie, a fourth-grader. The two secured their two books, which they will give to Kaye's mother and sister for Christmas, on Nov. 16, the first day they were made available. Even though the meet-and-greet was short, the Hugheses said meeting Palin and her daughter Piper made for an exciting evening.
"They were really trying to keep the line moving, but she shook both our hands and asked Kacie about school and just held onto her hand while she talked," Kaye said. "It was cool to meet Piper, too. They're both just very nice."
Tammy Pickett and Jennifer Cross's smiles and neon green sweatshirts shone across the store as they waited for their turn. Pickett embroidered both shirts, which read, "I came to meet the 45th president." She said she made similar sweatshirts when she met President Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton on their campaign trails.
Pickett said Palin liked the shirts so much she made an exception to her normal rule of signing only books; Palin signed both sweatshirts and had the women pose with her for a photo.
Gary Chiero, 59, from Columbus, Ohio, also dressed for the occasion — in a red track suit; red, white and blue T-shirt; backpack and baseball cap, all embroidered with the phrase "Palin Man." He said he's worn the outfit to about 10 of her book signings.
Tim Moss of Nicholasville planned to give one of his signed books as a gift, but he said the experience was a present to himself as he spent his birthday evening waiting with fellow ticket-holders.
"I teased my wife and told her when I got the tickets that I was going to spend my birthday with another woman, but she was OK with it when she found out who it was," Moss said. "It's definitely going near the top of the list of memorable birthdays."
Palin rounds out her 16-stop tour with visits to Spirit Lake, Iowa; Carmel Ind.; Cincinnati; and Columbia, S.C.