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Fans Praise Michelle Obama Bethlehem Speech

Lehigh Valley residents welcome First Lady's words on economy, education.

If you were to make a list of potential gifts to bring a visiting first lady, you might not think "shovel."

But that's what Chris Adams brought for for her visit to Bethlehem's Thursday evening.

Granted, this wasn't just any shovel. It was designed by Green Heron Tools, the New Tripoli company Adams works for. It's called "Hers," specifically designed for women.

"And we know Michelle Obama loves to garden," Adams said, waiting in a long line outside the college's Johnston Hall for Obama's speech.

The only queston was whether she'd be able to bring it inside.

"I don't want to get tackled by the Secret Service," Adams said.

A campaign volunteer told Adams she wouldn't be tackled, but wasn't sure the shovel would make it to the first lady either.

"As long as there's no tackling," Adams said.

Valerie Chambers Barber had more luck. The Allentown woman wanted to get Obama a copy of the Grammy-winning spoken word CD, "All About Bullies Big and Small."

After the speech, she was elated: not only had the CD made it to Obama, Chambers Barber said, but she'd gotten to talk to the first lady when she left the stage.

"Everyone told me I wouldn't be able to do it!" she said.

Chambers Barber described Obama as "a warm person," and spent a few minutes talking to her and her daughter Mariah.

"She listened to me, even though it was so loud," she said.

Also speaking with the first lady was Jolene Vitalos, a Bethlehem Area teacher and president of the Bethlehem Area Education Association.

Vitalos said she and her colleagues see students coming to school without having enough to eat at home, or from homes where their parents have lost their jobs.  

They hope that four more years of Obama will help improve things for those students, at school and at home.

"When she talks about the middle class, that resonates the most with us," Vitalos said, leaving the speech with two of her fellow teachers.

Asked to describe the speech, Thomas Brown of Wilson simply said, "Everything was excellent."

Hitting home the most was Michelle Obama's line about her husband understanding the American dream.

"When you walk through that doorway of opportunity, you do not slam it shut behind you," she had told the audience.

"That's big. That's very big," Brown said later. "You want everybody to have a fair chance at life."

The first lady's Bethelehem stop was one of Thursday. At Moravian, people began lining up hours before her arrival. 

Easton resident Pat Gibson had a front-row seat. She said she admired Michelle Obama as "very open minded...a strong woman…a good mother."

Gibson almost didn’t make it. Organizing for Easton's Tuesday, she wasn’t able to get tickets when they were available. Mayor Sal Panto came to her rescue.

"He said, ‘Pat, all you did tonight, I’ll get you those tickets,' " she said.

She was joined by her son, her grandson and her niece. 

"It's a family night out," Gibson said.

Check back on Patch for photos and more coverage of the Michelle Obama visit to Bethlehem.

Frank August 10, 2012 at 04:44 AM
Obama/Biden = 4 MORE YEARS!!!
Eastward August 10, 2012 at 11:40 AM
Except for the crappy economy, he's the same warmongering, freedom-taking president as the previous president.
Big Jim August 10, 2012 at 03:09 PM
A parking lot full of Subarus.
kicks on 4th August 10, 2012 at 04:44 PM
oh, you must have missed our hybrid- we were parked on the street
louis kootsares August 10, 2012 at 10:12 PM
I AM FIRED UP I GOT LOTS MORE I HOPE IT IS ENOUGH TO GET AYATOLLA OBAHMA OUT OF THE WHITE HOUSE what a terrible 3 plus years a bunch of crap only the simpletons will believe ..he is for the middle class just like adolf hitler celebrated yom kipper

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