Legendary rocker Jon Bon Jovi made an appearance at the Farmingdale Stew Leonard's Saturday morning to promote the new line of rosé wine he developed with his son, surprising shoppers and fans.
Around 10:30 a.m., two black Cadillac sport utility vehicles pulled up to the curb in front of the Airport Plaza supermarket. Among the small group who stepped out were Bon Jovi and his son Jesse Bongiovi, who were promptly escorted into the store by CEO Stew Leonard Jr.
"I'm just shopping," Bon Jovi said.
As Leonard led Bon Jovi through the store's employee-only areas, fans scrambled through the winding aisles to see where he would emerge next, phones and cameras at the ready.
Cathy Smith, 57, said she has been a Bon Jovi fan for 30 years. "It's just so exciting," Smith said. " 'Living on a Prayer' is my song. I have goose bumps."
Eventually, a large, cardboard cutout of the wine, called Diving into Hampton Water, was brought out, prompting more photo opportunities before the troupe walked out of the store.
Before leaving, the singer shook the hand of Sami Lapidus, 9, of Merrick, who broke out in tears of joy.
"I'm just so shocked," she said.
"You're so lucky," her mother, Liz Lapidus, told her, squealing excitedly.
For many shoppers, the visit came as a surprise.
"We actually were coming for cookie dough," said Lou Diaz, 43, of West Islip. "We talked to the lady over there, and she said, 'Oh, Bon Jovi's here,' and we didn't believe her. All of a sudden, everyone just started running. We were just trying to catch him wherever he went."
Other fans had already heard about the visit and traveled to the store in the hopes of catching a glimpse of the singer.
Darlene Delaney, 50, of Lindenhurst, heard the rumors and got to Airport Plaza early Saturday morning. She was unsure whether the singer was going to be at the supermarket or at Stew Leonard’s Wine and Spirits, which is also in the plaza, so she made sure to check both, ultimately opting to wait at the supermarket, she said.
"We're huge fans," Delaney said. "He's a great guy."
Mary Boyd, 43, of Deer Park, a longtime Bon Jovi fan, said that whenever she sees the singer or hears his songs, it reminds her of her childhood, which made the encounter especially significant.
"A lot of things happened in my life when his music was coming out," Boyd said. "Things you go through when you hear his music, and it's just soothing."
Stew Leonard’s Wine and Spirits shop will be selling the line, which is made in the Languedoc region in the south of France and was launched earlier this year. The father-son duo collaborated with Gerard Bertrand, a well-regarded French winemaker, to craft the wine, Stew Leonard's said in a news release.