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Crowd flocks to support

Customers turn out to stand behind Chick-fil-A after president draws criticism

Posted: August 2, 2012 1:55 a.m.
Updated: August 2, 2012 1:55 a.m.

Hundreds line up outside of Chick-fil-A restaurant with dozens of cars in the drive-thru line at the Westfield Valencia Town Center Mall in Valencia for Chick-fil-A Appreciation Day on Wednesday.

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Those just wanting to “Eat more Chik’n” had to wait a little longer than usual Wednesday as hundreds of hungry people gathered at the Santa Clarita Valley fast-food restaurant for “Chick-fil-A Appreciation Day.”

The unofficial campaign backing the fast-food company was a grassroots effort spurred by social media and emails in response to controversial gay-marriage comments made by company President Dan Cathy.

“I’m here to support Chick-fil-A, and I’m here to support free speech,” said Marcia Nicholson, 54, of Palmdale, who was waiting in line on her lunch break Wednesday.

Cathy told the Baptist Press last month that the Atlanta-based company was “guilty as charged” for backing “the biblical definition of a family.” Gay-rights groups and others answered with calls for boycotts, including the mayors of Boston and Chicago.

“He does have a right to say that,” said Patti Bakewell of Lancaster, also at the Valencia Chick-fil-A. “I’m not here to protest the gay-marriage issue. I’m here to support free speech.”

It was this backlash that brought many to the lengthy line that stretched out of the restaurant’s doors and into the parking lot for most of the day Wednesday.

“We came out here for this,” Bakewell said, adding that she’d never before been to a Chick-fil-A, which doesn’t have an Antelope Valley location.

Opponents of Cathy’s stance have planned “Kiss Mor Chiks” on Friday, asking people of the same sex to show up at Chick-fil-A locations and kiss each other.

Jenny and Nicholas Patey heard about the campaign and wanted to show their support for free speech.

Patey took issue with the mayor of Boston trying to stop the chain from opening new restaurants.

“‘It’s American to disagree with Chick-fil-A, but to not let them into your city is fascist,’” said Nicholas Patey, 28, of Valencia, quoting a friend’s Facebook post that he felt summarized his stance.

Of course, some waiting in the fast-moving line were not taking a stance, they were just plain hungry.

“I’m here because he wants it,” said Armando Ruiz, 35, of Santa Clarita, who was holding the hand of his 5-year-old son, Ezeqiel, as the line snaked through the Westfield Valencia Town Center parking lot.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.


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