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May 20, 2016

People in Florida went nuts for the opening of a new Wawa

Cult following for convenience store chain is strong south of Philly

Business Wawa

Bubba, 2, leans out of his owner's pickup truck parked in front of the first Wawa convenience store, opened in April 1964, in Folsom, Pa., Thursday April 22, 2004.

A new Wawa opened in Palm Shores, Florida, on Thursday, and had you been there, you would have thought Zayn Malik rejoined One Direction in a mall packed with teenage girls.

If there were any doubts that the convenience store/gas station chain's cult following has extended beyond the Delaware Valley, they should be squashed. Because when the ribbons were cut at 8 a.m. in a town 1,000 miles away from Philadelphia, "fans" were already lined up out the door.

Florida Today reporter Jessica Saggio was at the scene three hours beforehand, and what she described resembled a political rally more than an opening for a place to get coffee and a sandwich:

Considering the location is the first in Florida's Brevard County, the excitement seems understandable, especially for transplants from the Philly area, as Saggio reports:

Brian Smith, a Palm Bay resident, was first in line. Sipping on a coffee he brought himself, he became a sort of ambassador for the store before the opening, chatting with people as they drove up. The Philadelphia transplant grew up with Wawas and was determined to be the first customer. And that he was.

What's all the hype about? He explained, "It's like a 7-Eleven with a Publix deli inside on steroids."

Wawa is aggressively expanding in the state. The Delaware County-based company plans to open 120 new stores in Florida before the end of 2022.

That's in addition to new stores in Center City Philadelphia. Last year, a flagship location opened right at the corner of Broad and Walnut streets, and another is planned for 19th and Market.