Who camps out for an iPad?

Meet the folks who will sleep on the streets of New York to be at the head of the line

Photo: PED

It’s was bright and sunny Friday afternoon in New York City and the entrance to Apple’s (AAPL) Fifth Avenue store was mobbed — as it often is — by eager shoppers.

Almost lost in the crowd were nine brave souls lined up against a plaza wall and guarded by young men in Apple T-shirts.

They were here to buy the iPad — the tablet computer that was to go on sale in 18 hours — and they were settling in for the night.

They ranged in age from 7 to 47 and came from as near as Brooklyn and as far away as Germany. One is a grandmother, several are students, one is what you might call a professional line sitter.

Here are they are, in reverse order: 

  • The iPad line, Friday 3 p.m. Photo: PED

    Number 9: Dean Vassallo, 27, a systems engineer from South Hampton, NY., who would rather not say whom he works for. He got here at noon.

  • Number 8: Richard Goodyear, 36, is here on an extended vacation from Munich, Germany, where he works for the public television network ARD. “This is an exciting story and I wanted to be part of it,” he says. “This device is going to change the way we get the news.”
  • Number 7: Giovanna Mullen, 11, a student at Glennfield Middle School in Montclair, N.J. “I just want an iPad,” she says. “It’s kinda cool to get it in person.” She got here at 5 a.m. Friday morning. She’s saving a place for her little sister, Christiana, 7, who is too young to spend the night.
  • Numbers 6 and 5: Jeanniey Mullen, Giovanna’s mom, and Toni DiGiro, her grandmother. Jeanniey is getting an iPad for herself. Toni is here to keep an eye on things.
  • Numbers 4, 3 and 2: Nessrine Paharsingh, 15, a student at Maxwell High in Brooklyn; her cousin Ashley Santiago, 13, who goes to IS 292 in East New York; and Sunage Bravo, 30, Nessrine’s mom. They’ve been here since 11:30 p.m. Thursday. Did they know they could have reserved their iPads ahead of time? “We found out after we got here,” says Nessrine, who didn’t sleep a wink last night.
  • Greg Packer. Photo: PED

    Number 1: Greg Packer, 47, a highway maintenance worker from Huntington, Long Island, who has made a hobby of giving “man on the street” interviews to the press, which he does by attending events that attract journalists and being first in line. He was first to buy the original iPhone, first to sign the condolence book at the British consulate when Princess Diana died,  first in line for Bill Clinton’s book signing, and first in line for the inauguration of George W. Bush, for which he slept outside in the snow. According to his Wikipedia entry, he’s been quoted more than 100 times and photographed at least 16 times by the Associated Press, 14 times by Newsday, 13 times by the New York Daily News and 12 times by the New York Post. In 2003 the AP issued a memo that read, in part: “The world is full of all kinds of interesting people. One of them is Greg Packer of Huntington, N.Y., who apparently lives to get his name on the AP wire and in other media. … Mr. Packer is clearly eager to be quoted. Let’s be eager, too — to find other people to quote.”

[Follow Philip Elmer-DeWitt on Twitter @philiped]

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