This past week the Kenai and the Soldotna Chambers of Commerce hosted Governor Sarah Palin at our weekly luncheon. She was here to sign five new bills and then surprised us all by also choosing our venue to announce her nomination for the state District Attorney.
She has attended our luncheons in the past, but it was prior to her Vice Presidential run and needless to say, things have definitely changed since then. She has become more cautious with the media and more strict and aware of her surroundings. There was so much more preparation involved with this visit.
First of all, her staff informed us about five times that she would NOT be speaking. She was merely coming to sign the bills and hand the mic over to our local representatives sponsoring the bills to discuss in detail. So, when the day finally came we really didn’t know what to tell people as far as what she would be addressing, if anything at all. Of course, everyone was hoping to hear from her directly.
Second, they requested four reserved parking spots, extra security, a seperate entrance to the building, and the list goes on. I understand she is considered a ‘celebrity’ to many now and her staff is simply looking out for her best interest through it all, but seriously? This was in Soldotna! Does the Soldotna Sports Center even have extra security?! It was interesting, but completely understandable. It just amazed us how different this visit was for her compared to her last visit when she joined us at a local Industry Appreciation event in August 2008 and was assisting the kids with the frozen t-shirt contest. She was so casual and laid-back and I don’t recall any staff or security following her around everywhere. It was almost kind of sad. Sad that in her own state, let alone in an area of about 30,000 residents, she has to take that many precautions to ensure her safety and security.
Minutes before her arrival we got a call that the reserved parking spots were no longer needed. Then the convoy of vehicles arrives — she was leading the convoy, driving herself in a blue Ford Explorer 🙂 — and they park and all walk in the front door. Guess they didn’t need that side entrance after all. She walks in the room filled with about 200 attendants, 4-5 TV cameras, radio broadcasters, and newspaper reporters all awaiting her arrival. When it’s time to sign the bills they introduce her and she gets up and SPEAKS for about 10 minutes! She touched on a few general things and then talked about each of the bills in detail. It was great that she took the time to speak, but again…what happen to “SHE IS NOT SPEAKING….DO NOT PUT HER ON THE AGENDA” ????
After the bills were signed and the luncheon had concluded a line of people formed waiting to talk to her, have their photo with her or get a book signed. Since it was our event, we had to wait until everyone was out to begin clean-up and she was the last person to leave. I think that says a lot about her. She stayed and visited with the very last person in line. Didn’t miss one person.
We thanked her one last time for coming and she was very grateful for everything we did to prepare for her. She walked out of the building, hopped in her Explorer and began her drive back to Anchorage…and all 4-5 vehicles of staff and security followed behind.
And that’s the story of Governor Palin’s recent visit to the Peninsula.
Below is me (my big prego self :), the Governor and Michelle (Exec. Director for the Soldotna Chamber). There were about three cameras on us and we were all looking at different ones in every photo!