Fans camp out at Bellevue Square for Microsoft store opening, Miley Cyrus tickets
By NAT LEVY
Bellevue Reporter Staff Writer
November 18, 2010 · Updated 4:46 PM
More than 1,000 Miley Cyrus and Microsoft fanatics waited patiently for hours, or even days.
They bundled up in a parking garage outside Bellevue Square, biding time before staff let them in the mall Thursday morning. Once they made it inside, more waiting. Some of the lucky fans won merchandise like external hard-drives and Sony laptops. Others learned steps from local break dancing crew the Massive Monkees.
But when Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer manned his station in front of the large white curtain hiding the boisterous staff of Microsoft's seventh store, the patience waned and the enthusiasm, drained by hours out in the cold and in line, returned. The upper floors of the mall were packed with onlookers. And after a short speech, Ballmer cut the red ribbon and the curtain dropped to signify the opening of the computer giant's hometown hub. The campers spilled into the store in an orderly but excited manner. They danced with Microsoft employees to the tune of the Black Eyed Peas' "Tonight's Gonna Be a Good Night" and grabbed the bracelets for Saturday's 4 p.m. Cyrus concert, along with other free pieces of Microsoft merchandise.
Each of the first 1,000 entrants received two "premium tickets" for the show, which will be at corner of Bellevue Way Northeast and Northeast Fourth Street. It was previously scheduled to occur down the street, in the parking lot of the nearby Safeway. The next 1,000 entrants received general admission tickets.
The giveaway was a part of a weekend-long promotion for the opening of the store, the first in the Pacific Northwest.
"It's great to finally open a store in Microsoft's hometown," said Ballmer, who displayed the same, if not greater, level of excitement as many of the teens and tech-heads wanting inside the store.
But the day wasn't all about the store or Cyrus. Microsoft unveiled a number of grants it awarded to local schools and companies before the opening. Cleveland High School and the Bellevue School District were each given $200,000 grants while First Robotics and the King County Library System received $500,000 grants.
While many of those in line were there only for the Cyrus tickets, the new 5,000-square foot store, armed with PCs, Windows Phone 7, the Xbox 360 and the new Kinect motion sensor, drew in some of the fans.
The night before the store opened, the vibe was all about Cyrus.
"We're here because we love Miley Cyrus," Emily Storino (15 years old), Kalia Machado (16), and Lindsey Arande (15) all shouted in unison. The three Edmonds residents lined up at 8:30 p.m. Wednesday.
Like hundreds of other jazzed up juniors, The three girls could barely contain their excitement. They spent hours posing for cameras, dancing and meeting fellow Cyrus fans.
Many of the pajama-clad kids in line said they admired Cyrus for the accomplishments she's achieved at such a young age. Having recently turned 18, Cyrus has gained worldwide fame and ovation for her alter-ego Hannah Montana. The character has spawned television shows, movies and highly successful concert tours.
"She's accomplished so much in her young life," Storino said.
"She makes you feel like if she can do that, then I could do it," Machado added.
Cyrus fans built makeshift campsites with air mattresses and beds. Shivering parents wrapped in several blankets sipped on coffee and hot chocolate while playing card games to pass the time.
Everyone had their own reasons for devoting nearly an entire day of their lives waiting for a chance at Cyrus tickets. Kaarin Sharman had been waiting patiently with her sister since 7:30 p.m. Wednesday night. Sharman planned to surprise her 10-year-old daughter Kenzie with tickets to her favorite act. Kenzie is already an aspiring singer, hoping to follow in Cyrus' footsteps.
"I'm just vying for mom of the year sitting here and surprising her with the tickets," Sharman said. "We just thought it would be a great opportunity to get to see one of her favorite people."
Many of the anxious adolescents have followed Cyrus since her debut as Hannah Montana in 2006.
Paige Dorans, 18, has even met her before, at a show in California. Also a singer, Dorans feels connected to Cyrus because the two are the exact same age.
"I've been watching my entire life; I've been growing up with her."
Dorans and several of her friends were among the first arrivals, having trekked across several bridges from Gig Harbor. She arrived at 11:30 a.m. Wednesday.
The expected base of teenage and younger girls turned out, but a large contingent of devoted male fans were desperate to see the Disney-produced pop star, as well.
Jack Smith and Nico Shewey, both 17 and residents of Redmond, appreciated the star's ability to succeed young and the quality of her music too.
Smith, who joked that he would use his best pick up lines on Cyrus to get her phone number, said he is an avid watcher of her show.
"Honestly, she's our age, and she's hot," he said.
"Her songs are pretty catchy too," Shewey added.Contact Bellevue Reporter Staff Writer Nat Levy at email@example.com or 425-453-4290.