An event featuring former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin and conservative commentator Glenn Beck on Saturday night is likely to bring out two very different crowds.
Thousands of fans who paid between $73.75 and $225 for tickets will gather inside the Dena'ina Civic and Convention Center to see Beck introduced by Palin, the 2008 Republican vice presidential nominee and a potential 2012 presidential candidate. The two are favorites of conservative tea party activists.
Outside the downtown center, critics plan to protest and wave signs denouncing Palin and Beck as intolerant fearmongers spreading divisiveness across the country. As many as 200 protesters are expected to show up, said one of the organizers, Lynette Moreno-Hinz, who is part Tlingit, an Alaskan Indian tribe.
"We feel that they are inciting racism in what they do and what they say and how they go about it," she said.
Beck, a popular Fox News Channel personality, will donate his speaking fee from the event, and Palin is not being paid for her appearance, according to Christopher Balfe, president of Beck's media company. The amount of Beck's fee is not being disclosed, and will go to the Special Operations Warrior Foundation, which provides scholarships and services to families of military members.
The event originally featured only Beck, according to Christopher Cox of Northern Stage Co. in Anchorage. Only later did Cox think of adding Palin and she agreed to participate.
Earlier this week, Palin promoted the event on her Facebook page, saying Beck could be counted on to make for an interesting and inspiring night.
"I can think of no better way to commemorate 9/11 than to gather with patriots who will 'never forget,'" Palin wrote.
The date of the event is a coincidence, Cox said. He didn't know what Beck planned to talk about during the show.
Despite the steep price for admission, all but 700 of 4,500 tickets have been sold, said Therin Ferrin, with a private contractor that operates the city's convention centers.
As for any protesters, they can legally assemble outside the Dena'ina Center if they stay on public sidewalks and don't block entrances.
"They're welcome to do what they want," Ferrin said. If people get too rowdy, he added, "then it becomes a police matter."
That's not going to happen, said Moreno-Hinz. The protest and an earlier rally planned for Saturday by the same organizers are being dubbed as "Stop the Hate" gatherings.
"It's going to be a peaceful event," Moreno-Hinz said of the one outside the convention center. "We're sending a message that we support the peace and the love of the community, of our nation, of Alaskan people."