A day after an “unprecedented” number of people patronized Chick-fil-A restaurants all across the country, a more normal-sized crowd arrived on Thursday, including at the local store in Egg Harbor Township.
But among those who came, several said they continued to be ardent supporters of the national chain and its founder Dan Cathy, who made headlines for his public opposition to same-sex marriage.
“I’d like to continue to support them as much as I can,” said Patty Getty, an Egg Harbor Township stay-at-home mother of six children. “I’m definitely a believer.”
Conservative television host and former Arkansas governor Mike Huckabee was the first to propose the “Chick-fil-A Appreciation Day,” and use Facebook to encourage people to patronize the chain. He said it was in response to politicians who have spoken out against Cathy and the chain, threatening to block new locations in their cities.
Although the event was initiated outside of the company, the strategy turned out to be particularly profitable for the chain.
“While we don’t release exact sales numbers, it was an unprecedented day,” Steve Robinson, Chick-fil-A’s executive vice president of marketing said in a statement posted on the company’s website.
Some patrons who came Thursday said they made a point to come after missing the actual day on Wednesday.
“We’re showing support,” said John Sollog, 43, of Mays Landing, adding he came with his fellow First United Church of Mays Landing members. “We’re hoping to have a church fundraiser here.”
But while chain supporters had their day, same-sex marriage proponents — also through Facebook — have been trying to organize a National Same-Sex Kiss Day. While thousands said on Facebook they would participate in the event Friday, it was unclear whether local residents would participate.
Local activists said they had not heard whether the event would gain traction.
Larry Sieg, head of the Greater Atlantic City Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender Alliance, said he would not participate in National Same-Sex Kiss Day. A fan of the food at Chick-fil-A, he said he was undecided on whether he would patronize the eatery.
“It’s a personal issue that people have to decide for themselves,” he said.
While Sieg supports Cathy’s right to free speech and voice his beliefs, Sieg said he is disturbed by accounts Chick-fil-A’s nonprofit foundation supports groups that may promote anti-gay sentiments.
According to its 2010 tax report, Chick-fil-A’s WinShape Foundation has contributed $1.2 million to the Marriage and Family Foundation, which cited among its legislative victories prohibiting taxpayer funding of elective abortions, constitutional amendment defining marriage, requiring posting of the national motto “In God We Trust” in public schools and a partial birth abortion ban.
In some ways, though, the controversy created by Chick-fil-A will be good in moving forward the same-sex marriage agenda, Sieg said.
“Competition and controversy can only lead to positive things,” he said.
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