Residents and supporters continued to line up in droves for a hearty meal today at Chick-fil-A in Murrieta.
Over 300 people continued to stand in a line that snaked through the parking lot and beyond Wednesday evening at the popular eatery located at 24794 Madison Ave. in Murrieta.
The vehicle line for the drive-thru contained well over 50 vehicles and wrapped out of the parking lot onto Juniper Street and continued wrapping south on Madison Avenue down in front of Mulligan Family Fun Center.
The scene mirrored similar events that took place today throughout Southern California with thousands of residents offering support of the embattled fast food restaurant.
Chick-fil-A has endured nationwide criticism and threats of boycotts after CEO Dan Cathy made his stance against same-sex marriage known.
The mood in Murrieta was festive, with a small group of musicians playing Christian music for a large crowd that had gathered around to sing along.
“Any sanction of free speech is an affront (to) Christianity,” said Murrieta resident Allan Bailey, adding he was there to support the First Amendment and free speech rights.
Bailey said he had been in line over an hour and a half, and that the line had more than doubled in length since he had arrived.
He estimated the wait had reached over three hours long at one point.
“It’s worth it,” said Hemet resident J. Baker, when informed that the line was several hours long. “We’ll wait all night.”
Baker said she and her family drove down from Hemet to support Chick-Fil-A today.
“I think we’ve been silent and tolerant for too long. People that want tolerance seem to be intolerant of everyone else’s thoughts and beliefs,” Baker added.
A similar event held in Temecula also drew hundreds of supporters and included nearly two dozen protesters.
Temecula resident Martha Martinez, who organized the cadre of protesters at the Temecula restaurant, said that that event was not entirely peaceful.
“Someone threw a juice bottle out of the car and hit one of our (protesters) in the face,” Martinez said.
The police were called to the scene and no further incidents occurred, she said.
Martinez clarified that the reason for the protest in Temecula was not to take issue with Chick-fil-A CEO’s right to free speech, but to take a stand against the company’s donations to organizations that are harmful to gay citizens.
At the Murrieta eatery, no protesters were visible.
Paul Vincent of Corona said it was the third time he’d visited a Chick-fil-A restaurant today — each time at a different location.
He had been to the one in Corona off of Cajalco for breakfast, another one in Corona off of Hidden Valley for lunch, and was now at the Murrieta location for dinner.
Vincent said he did so to support the company and show his support for First Amendment free speech rights.
He waited approximately an hour and a half for lunch at the location off of Hidden Valley, he said.
“We’ve got to show support,” he said.
Joe Fanaselle is a local writer and photographer and regular contributor to SWRNN.