WASILLA - It wasn't the party they hoped for when several hundred people gathered for an election night rally in GOP vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin's hometown.
A pall was cast over the crowd Tuesday night when Republican candidate John McCain, with the Alaska governor by his side, conceded the election to Barack Obama. The concession was broadcast on large screen TVs inside the city's sports complex.
"I think America made a big mistake," said Phil Straka, a professional photographer from Wasilla.
He was at the rally selling buttons with the words "McCain-Palin" superimposed over Alaska scenes. "If there was another month before the election, I think they would have won."
Arin Denison cast her first-ever presidential vote for the McCain-Palin ticket.
"I thought they would win," the 18-year-old Wasilla resident said. "I'm very upset about it."
Residents throughout this community were ready to cheer Palin from Wasilla to the White House.
Palin provided a much-needed boost to McCain's popularity in Alaska, where he finished fourth in the Republican caucuses.
Several dozen people from across the country, including Indiana, Florida and Colorado, gathered at the home of Brad and Kristan Cole, friends of Sarah and Todd Palin.
As the results trickled in, they ate, drank wine and snapped souvenir pictures with life-sized cutouts of McCain and Palin.
The results were not what they were hoping for, but several expressed hope for whatever future role Palin will play in politics.
So was Beryl Kring, an Anchorage resident attending the rally at the sports complex.
"It's just the beginning for Sarah. She'll be on the ticket in 2012," Kring said.
And for Straka, the professional photographer with the McCain-Palin buttons, he said he was willing to give them away after McCain's concession speech.
Straka is willing to make more for the next time Palin runs.
And one booth at the rally featured "Palin 2012" T-shirts for sale.