Julia Robertson is a lifelong fan of Julie Andrews. So there was only one thing to do when Robertson found out the legendary actress would be making an appearance in Decatur.
Robertson, a resident of Raleigh, N.C., hopped in her car and drove seven hours so she could be first in line to secure a ticket for Andrews’ appearance at Decatur’s Little Shop of Stories. Robertson arrived at 6:20 a.m. and waited nearly 12 hours to reserve Andrews’ new children’s book The Very Fairy Princess.
Three days later, on July 9, Robertson was the first of 200 people who got a chance to meet Andrews and get an autographed copy of her new book. The bookstore limited the signing to the first 200 people who showed up on July 6 and purchased Andrews’ book.
The Little Shop of Stories has gained a national reputation in recent years for bringing in the top children’s authors in the country for book signings and lectures.
“I’ve wanted to meet her my whole life, and this is the closest she’s ever come to where I live,” Robertson said. “Driving down here was worth it for the chance to meet her for 45 seconds.”
Robertson was not alone in her devotion to the actress, who starred in Disney classics The Sound of Music and Mary Poppins in the 1960s. More recently, Andrews has been in Disney films Princess Diaries and Princess Dairies II, and has done voice work in three Shrek movies and the newly released Despicable Me.
Pat Perry made the three-hour drive from Greenville, S.C., and was second in line after arriving at about 8 a.m. on July 6.
Georgia Tech senior Sally Ahlrich wasn’t about to let the opportunity pass her by either. Sally and her sister Megan Ahlrich were among the first five in line.
The Ahlrichs were among a group of people who cranked out a spontaneous rendition of The Sound of Music song Do Re Mi while waiting for their turn to meet Andrews.
“When I was 5 years old, I said a prayer that I wouldn’t be allowed to die until I met her,” Sally Ahlrich said.
Ahlrich shared that story with Andrews, who told her “Be careful what you wish for.”
Andrews was gracious during the two hours she spent at the bookstore, signing her book and meeting her fans. She spoke to each person, asking them how long they had to wait in line and thanking them for coming.
The event drew people of all ages, including 13-year-old Trey Dusseault of Decatur.
“I love Julie Andrews,” Dusseault said. “My mom told me when I was born they played The Sound of Music [soundtrack] in the car on the way home from the hospital. We waited six-and-a-half-hours to get our ticket and it was worth it.”
Lee Biggar of Peachtree City happened to be in Decatur the day tickets to the event were available and he reserved a place in line for his family.
Lee and Heidi Biggar, and their children Taylor, 12, and Lindsey, 10, were all smiles after the family met Andrews and had the book signed. The couple had the song Edelweiss from The Sound of Music played at their wedding, Lee Biggar said.
“It was fun,” Heidi Biggar said. “We grew up watching her. Her popularity spans all ages.”