Five-year-old Sarah Kester proudly showed off the bead bracelet that former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin gave her right off her own wrist Sunday.
Sarah and her grandmother, Jane Keliher of Wichita, were the first in line to have copies of Palin’s new book, “America by Heart: Reflections on Family, Faith and Flag” signed at the Dillons Marketplace in Andover.
That was mostly thanks to Keliher.
Armed with three layers of clothes, two scarves, two pairs of gloves and one pair of warm socks — topped with what she described as “the warmest blanket you could find” — Keliher spent the night Saturday night outside the grocery store..
She arrived about 8 Saturday night to secure her spot as No. 1 in line.
Her granddaughter couldn’t stay, sick with a sinus infection.
Keliher said Sarah cried when her family dropped her off at Dillons without her.
“I want to stay, too, Nana,” Keliher quoted her granddaughter.
“When a 5-year-old granddaughter says I want to see Sarah Palin, you go see Sarah Palin,” Keliher said from the front of the line, explaining why she was willing to spend the night in the cold in a grocery store parking lot.
About 11 p.m. Saturday, Keliher talked to others in the line as if she’d known them a long time. The man next in line even offered to share his portable heater with her.
Meanwhile, others had pizza delivered to them to fuel them for the night.
About midnight, Dillons passed out coffee and doughnuts to people braving the chill.
Dillons spokeswoman Sheila Lowrie said about 600 people showed up for the Andover stop on Palin’s book tour, which started Tuesday in Phoenix.
Everything went smoothly, Lowrie said. Two protesters — one who opposed Palin’s visit and one who supported her — were asked to leave store property, Lowrie said. No one was arrested.
About 100 people spent the night, Lowrie said. Starting about 6 a.m. Sunday, people were escorted inside to get the wristbands they needed to see Palin.
Palin sat behind a black curtain during the three-hour book signing and did not do interviews with the media. Media personnel were allowed to go behind the curtain but only to photograph her.
Palin was gracious, Keliher said, giving Keliher’s granddaughter her bracelet and telling her that she could come fishing anytime.
The Republican nominee for vice president in the last election, Palin has hinted at a run for the White House in 2012, though in promos for her TLC show “Sarah Palin’s Alaska,” which features lots of shots of wilderness, she talks about how she likes being “free” more than politics.
But those in line at Dillons want to see her in office again.
Wichita resident Gib Schwemmer, who had wristband #309, said he even wrote in Palin for governor of Kansas, logistics aside.
“She got at least one vote,” he said.
Wearing a Korean War Veteran cap, Schwemmer said he is drawn to Palin because she invokes “common sense and talks very plain.”
Alvin Metzger drove from Ponca City, Okla., to take his granddaughter to the event.
They were second in line Saturday night.
“It’s not very often you get the chance to have a book signed by someone who might be the next president of the United States,” Metzger said, dressed in camouflage gear.
His 14-year-old granddaughter, Brielle Austin said she was “here for my future generation.”
She said she thought it would be cool to look back on her life and tell her own grandchildren that she once met Palin.
“It’s a memory,” Austin said.
“She’s looking ahead, I’m looking backwards,” Metzger chimed in.
Reach Deb Gruver at 316-268-6400 or firstname.lastname@example.org.