More than 1,000 people crammed inside Barnes & Noble's West Ashley bookstore Thursday to get a glimpse of TV and radio talk-show personality Glenn Beck, who was in town to sign copies of his latest book.
The scene outside the store before Beck arrived to promote "Arguing With Idiots: How to Stop Small Minds and Big Government" was like a rock concert. The parking lot was full. Hundreds of people were standing outside, and there were hundreds more inside. Many had been there for hours.
The first spots in line went to Debbie Zupa, 57, of Hickory, N.C. She and her two daughters had left their home in Hickory at 2:30 a.m. and were camped outside the bookstore at 7:30 a.m. "He's a wonderful guy and he speaks the truth," said Zupa's 21-year-old daughter Cami.
Zupa's other daughter, Charley, 19, had the No. 1 wristband to be first in line, but she saw a tall soldier dressed in fatigues walking with the aid of a cane. She gave him her place.
The soldier, Army Staff Sgt. Joseph Henderson, said he began watching Beck's show three years ago. "He motivates you to want to do what you can to change the government," Henderson said.
Greg Adams, 43, of Goose Creek, identified himself as a member of the Goose Creek 9-12 Gang. He said he got to the store by 6:45 p.m. and was willing to wait in line to get his book signed and to meet Beck. Other 9-12 folks were handing out cards explaining the group's "9 Principles and 12 Values."
Karen Raines, 62, of West Ashley had been waiting since 2 p.m. "I want to be sure I get to see the man who is awakening the silent majority," she said.
A Columbia woman, 22-year-old Erica Goldman, left work early to drive to the signing in Charleston because they had run out of wristbands in Columbia, which is where Beck was before he came to Charleston. She'd made arrangements to go to Orlando, Fla., where Beck is scheduled to sign books Friday, if she'd been unable to get a wristband in Charleston.
"If I had to go to Florida, I would have," she said as she clutched her copy of Beck's book. "This is a birthday present for my Mom."