Employees and customers at a local salon had a very famous surprise visitor Saturday during one of their busiest days of the year.



Gina White, owner of Pamper Me Please, said she received a phone call Saturday morning and was told that Sarah Palin might stop by the salon for a manicure.


Employees and customers at a local salon had a very famous surprise visitor Saturday during one of their busiest days of the year.

Gina White, owner of Pamper Me Please, said she received a phone call Saturday morning and was told that Sarah Palin might stop by the salon for a manicure.

The former governor of Alaska and Republican vice presidential nominee turned Fox News political commentator and best-selling author was in town to kick off Five Point’s “Lessons From Leaders” speaking series.

White, who purchased the salon in 2001, said it was a miracle that they were able to squeeze her in the morning of East Peoria Community High School’s prom.

“We can rarely take walk-ins,” she said. “The girls here are all so established.”

Diana Anderson, director of sales and marketing at Embassy Suites, where Palin and her husband, Todd, stayed, said she received a call Saturday morning from the hotel’s assistant general manager asking where Palin should go for a manicure.

“I’ve been going to Pamper Me Please since they opened (in 1994),” Anderson said. “I couldn’t not recommend them.”

About 20 minutes after Anderson received the call, the Palins arrived at Pamper Me Please.

“It was an absolutely fabulous opportunity,” White said.

Anderson recommended her nail technician, Rachelle Stokes, who has worked at the salon since 1996.

“I thought it was very cool,” Stokes said. “I mean, how often do you get to do Sarah Palin’s nails?”
Stokes said Palin was very down to earth.

“I was extremely nervous until I got to talking to her and realized how down to earth she was,” Stokes said. “We were talking about kids and life.”

White, a mother of children ranging from ages 15 to 31, said she spoke with Palin about raising children varying in age.

“She was just a normal person and very sweet,” White said.

After her French manicure, Palin had her hair done by Tonya Jones, a stylist with Pamper Me Please since 1995.

Jones happened to have a cancellation that allowed her time to squeeze Palin in for a shampoo and style.

She said she did not know what to expect.

“She was awesome,” Jones said. “She was so nice and not picky. She let me do what I wanted.”
Jones said Palin seemed to like the low-key environment of Pamper Me Please.

“She said it was ‘cozy’ and ‘comfortable,’” Jones said.

During her two-hour stay at the salon, Palin worked on her laptop and cell phone, preparing for her speaking engagement that evening.

“We tried to keep it as calm as possible,” White said. “Several customers had their picture taken with her.” 

Anderson said the small-town, small-business atmosphere of Pamper Me Please made the salon a perfect match for Palin, who is from a small town herself.

While Palin was pampered at the salon, her husband, Todd, walked over to East Peoria’s Subway, sat down and ate a sandwich and walked back to the salon without being recognized.

“He thought that was great,” Anderson said.

To surprise the VIP guests and make the Palins feel more at home, Anderson said Ben Mitzelfelt, the restaurant manager at Embassy Suites, made a few phone calls and tracked down Palin’s favorite coffee from Mocha Moose Coffee Co. and Roastery in Wasilla, Alaska.

“We had it flown in and it was waiting in her room,” Anderson said. “She wrote us a letter saying it was the most special thing a hotel has ever done for her.”