Since Oprah Winfrey arrived unannounced in Macon late Thursday afternoon, she has made a whirlwind tour of the city, followed by packs of adoring fans.
Today, she is set to record an episode of her TV show this afternoon before an invited audience of several hundred at the Macon City Auditorium. But on Friday, Winfrey visited a Macon dress shop, a shoe shop, some landmark eateries and a museum.
Around 1 p.m. Friday, she visited the Ginger Michelle shop, just across First Street from the Macon City Auditorium. Owner Ginger Hess said Winfrey stopped in the shop and purchased several items, including dresses.
The Winfrey entourage then headed to H&H Restaurant to meet Mama Louise Hudson and Mama Inez Hill.
More than 300 people waited in front of the restaurant for more than two hours.
Macon Mayor Jack Ellis showed up at the restaurant about 12:40 p.m. and entered through the back door. Minutes later, when several of the people thought Winfrey’s sport utility vehicle was pulling around back, a huge part of the crowd rushed en masse to the back only to find it was a false alarm. Comically, the crowd spun around and rushed back to their spots in front of the restaurant.
Both local and Atlanta TV crews filmed the crowd, causing one woman to beg off being on TV.
“If my boss sees me, it’s over!” she said, pleading to the cameraman. “(Winfrey’s) gonna have to get me a job!”
Another woman grumbled into her cell phone: “I wouldn’t be running down here if it was anyone else, I can assure you.”
When Winfrey arrived, she slowly made her way through the small dining area as fans pressed against her with cameras and cell phones. Security guards pushed back, creating a small seam for her to walk through. Customers crowded around the talk show host and many stayed much longer than their meals lasted, prompting workers to try and shoo people away as the growing crowd threatened to spill beyond the restaurant’s fire code capacity.
“Will you marry me, Oprah?” called out one man. She laughed off the proposal.
While at the restaurant, Winfrey chatted with several customers and both Mama Louise and Mama Inez.
Mama Louise, who gained renown while serving as the cook for the Allman Brothers Band, said she was excited that she and Mama Inez got to meet Winfrey.
“I can’t even tell you,” she said. “It was so thrilling to me that (Mama Inez) got to meet her. She loves seeing her on TV. (Winfrey) told me she was glad to meet me and had heard about all the things I did.”
Mama Louise said she hasn’t had that many people in and around the restaurant since Gregg Allman’s last visit.