Usually just a spot to get a chicken sandwich or waffle fries, Chick-fil-A also became a place to make a political stand in Harford County Wednesday.
Droves of local supporters came to the Abingdon Chick-fil-A, near the Route 24/I-95 interchange, throughout the day, many in support of a nationwide Chick-Fil-A Appreciation Day, organized by Fox News correspondent and former presidential candidate Mike Huckabee.
Several people interviewed outside the Abingdon restaurant in the early evening said they are glad Chick-fil-A's president took a stand against same-sex marriage and were especially upset that the mayors of several big cities threatened to refuse the restaurant from setting up outlets in their towns.
Members of a number of area churches said the controversy inspired them to make their voices heard as Christians.
Aberdeen's Marva Choates and Linda Fagnas said the pastor of Zion Temple Church in Havre de Grace gave out fliers urging congregants to attend the Appreciation Day.
"It's time for Christians to stand up and take a stand for what we believe in," Choates said. "We need to let others know that the Bible is right."
She said she fully supports Chick-fil-A President Dan Cathy.
"He is not ashamed to let others know where he stands," Choates said.
Fagnas added: "They have Christian values and we support that."
Choates and Fagnas were excited to see cars stretching down Constant Friendship Boulevard, where the restaurant is, around dinner time. The two women had to park across the street in Target's lot, as did several dozen other people.
Philip Einhorn, of Bel Air, said the last straw was the attempt to stop Chick-fil-A from opening restaurants in some cities.
"I think it was that [Dan Cathy] can't have free speech, and trying to stop his stores from being built is the most ridiculous thing I have ever heard," he said.
Einhorn and his niece, Alicia Richardson, were holding signs that read "We Love God + Chick-Fil-A" and "We Support Chick-Fil-A + Free Speech."
Einhorn said a number of his fellow members of Trinity Evangelical Lutheran Church in Joppa were also buying food.
One of them, Helen Ryan of Abingdon, said she came because "this is America" and freedom of speech should be supported.
Looking at the line, she said: "Looks like the silent Christians came out."
Several customers told The Aegis around lunchtime that the restaurant was busier than it has ever been. At 6:30 p.m., the Abingdon eatery was still packed with people waiting to be served.
A representative from Chick-fil-A said the owner did not want The Aegis to take pictures or interview customers inside the restaurant.
She also said the owner declined to comment on how the day went but gave out a corporate statement that was publicized earlier.
The statement reads, in part:
"From the day Truett Cathy started the company, he began applying biblically-based principles to managing his business...The Chick-fil-A culture and service tradition in our restaurants is to treat every person with honor, dignity and respect – regardless of their belief, race, creed, sexual orientation or gender... Going forward, our intent is to leave the policy debate over same-sex marriage to the government and political arena."
Across the street, Clifford Lonesome said he had just stopped in for food, not because of the appreciation event; however, he does support the restaurant's values.
"I agree with the owner sticking to what he believes in, and I will support Chick-fil-A no matter what," Lonesome said.
Lonesome, who is from Riverside and is in the Navy, said he regularly frequents the restaurant and has never seen it as busy as it was Wednesday evening.
"It's great that everybody came out," he said, "You can't even get in. It's crazy. I have never seen this before."
On the opposite side of the spectrum, gay rights activists are planning to hold on Friday a "national same-sex kiss day at Chick-fil-A."Copyright © 2015, The Baltimore Sun