They came to Harrisburg from throughout central PA: Annville, Manheim, Perry County. Every borough and township on the West Shore seemed to be well represented.
One guy said he drove up from Washington, D.C.; another came down from upstate New York.
These passionate Philadelphia Eagles fans were here to see the Super Bowl MVP, their personal football hero, Nick Foles.
“I wouldn’t miss this, no way,” said Ben Adams, a self-described “Eagles nut” from the Mechanicsburg area. “I’ve been waiting all my life for the Eagles to win the Super Bowl.”
Foles, though, wasn’t in Harrisburg just to say “hi” to a few fans. He stopped into Midtown Scholar Bookstore to sign and sell copies of his new autobiography, “Believe It: My Journey of Success, Failure and Overcoming the Odds.” All comers had to have a ticket, a $30 brush with fame, long sold out.
Foles settled into his chair at about 2 p.m. and basically didn’t move for the next 2 ½ hours, a blur of happy faces passing before him.
Outside, people couldn’t believe the extent of the line, which ran down Verbeke Street then made a sharp right onto N. 2nd, extending as far as the eye could see. Up and down the line, a few freelance businessmen hawked chilled bottles of water from a cooler, as fans sweated copiously on the first day of an extended summer heat wave.
“Oh, it’s damn hot,” said Claudia Evans, wearing an Eagles jersey that looked better suited for a cool, damp November day. “But it’s worth it.”
On N. 3rd Street, at the exit side of the store, folks tightly gripped their freshly signed copies of “Believe It.” One man mentioned that he was disappointed that Foles wouldn’t sign his jersey, while a young woman commented on the surreal, fleeting moment of meeting her favorite football player.
“It all happened so fast,” said Megan Burillo. “You walked in, and he was there, and then you were gone.”
For a post-signing reward, some fans trickled across the street to the Broad Street Market, where Adam Brackbill, owner of Urban Churn ice cream, seemed a bit overwhelmed by the sudden demand for his frozen treats.
“I’m selling out pretty fast,” said Brackbill, as he scooped up dish after dish. “If I had known about this, I would have prepared.”
Back outside, Bill Akers and a few pals had a long walk back to a downtown parking garage. Asked if he planned to read the book, Akers, who had trucked in from the Philadelphia suburbs, seemed non-committal.
“I can’t say I’m much of a reader,” he said. “I really just wanted to meet the guy. And now we’ll go out and have some fun.”
Pictured above: Nick Foles signs books inside Midtown Scholar Bookstore.