Haley family welcomes well-wishers at governor's mansion

By Dawndy Mercer Plank - bio | email

COLUMBIA, SC (WIS) - The public got a rare look inside the governor's mansion Wednesday afternoon. For a little more than two hours, a long line of well-wishers and curious constituents stood outside, braving chilly temperatures for a chance to meet the new first family.

Standing at the back of the line, young Haley Neal waited to meet her new governor while dreaming of what she herself could one day  be. "I'd probably want to be the governor," she said.

Amy Neal wanted a history lesson to come to life for her nine-year-old. "If you put your mind at anything, you can do anything you want," she said.

One by one, South Carolinians made it through the long line and tight security, out of the cold into a warm reception with many "good to see yous," "nice to meet yous" and autographs to be signed. Haley's husband Michael stood by the governor's side, the first to hold the title  first gentleman.

The meet-and-greet was short for each guest, but memorable. "We shook hands and we looked at the pictures," said Bruce Cole. "We learned about the history. One of the most fascinating things we saw was as a statue of Peg Leg Bates from Fountain Inn, South Carolina. He's one of our local heroes."

And "hero" is a title two sisters hope to bestow on the new person in charge, driving from Charleston to wish her well. "I had met her a few times before helping out volunteering, but Alexa had never met her," said Vanessa Nichols. "So I think that was really exciting for her."

"I've never really met anyone like that before, so it was exciting," agreed Vanessa's sister, Alexa Nichols.

A long line of guests looking to the lady of the house for the next four years.

Copyright 2011 WIS. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.