The Captain and I have gotten a few life events behind us and are now back on the road in a multi-year long effort to visit all the SEC stadiums and sample their traditions and fans. We leave the game analysis to the experts; we want the fan/tailgate experience. Our first trip this year was Auburn; uncomfortable territory for a Tide and Dawg fan...but more on that a little later.
Our first stop was Buffalo's Wild Wings in Opelika, AL for a 'tank up' of nachos and wings before hitting the tailgates (people are much friendlier if they don't think you are there just to 'mooch' food:)). The Alabama@Ole Miss game was on the big screens and although it was a heavily weighted Auburn crowd there were a few Tide fans (The Captain) among them.
We found our first surprise as our waitress was sporting a UGA cap deep in enemy territory.
We loaded up and headed to the stadium and South Quad parking deck. GPS is a wonderful thing and has made navigation in unfamiliar territory so much easier (getting back to the deck from Jordan Hare was another story). Our first encounter on campus was with a couple of 'game day operations' people in the parking deck. They were open, friendly and very helpful with directions and stories about memorable events on Auburn's campus (and not very flattering LSU stories). ON to the tailgating area closer to the stadium. Every stadium has a designated area for parties, tents, TVs, and especially RV's (usually linked to how much you donate to their foundation) and evidently the RV crowd has a lot of pull because many RV's were parked next to the stadium! (It is not that way at UGA or LSU). We stopped along the way, introduced ourselves, explained our purpose and everyone was open and friendly.
We always try and find someone that either the Captain or me knows so we can more of a local's experience on campus. My contact this day was Theresa Andretta, a former band parent from Sequoyah HS whose youngest daughter Francesca, is a music major and plays piccolo in the Auburn Band. Theresa had 3 daughters in the Sequoyah Band and was always a worker and contributor with all our great band parents. We were on the phone back and forth in order to locate each other so she could show and explain the band's "4 Corners" pre-game pep rally and march to stadium.
A short reminiscence from years ago; When I was a student at Bowdon High School (on the Alabama state line) every other year Auburn would travel to Knoxville for the Auburn vs Tennessee game. Our band directors were both connected to Auburn (Norman Padgett and later Larry Musick) and through their connections the band would stop in Bowdon, the ENTIRE student body would go to the stadium, and the Auburn Band would perform for about 30 minutes. I had never heard a sound like that and along with Mr. Padgett and Larry Musick's guidance and mentoring I guess I did OK.
|Donald Trump makes an appearance!|
Theresa was on a mission to show me the band's pregame ritual and since that's one of the reasons we attend these things we headed out to meet her. Even with our technology (phone and texts) we kept passing each other by until (still on the phone) we walked almost into each other; I was looking for a 'ladder in an intersection' and we found it. Earlier we had found what we thought was the band line up but didn't see Francesca.
That's when we learned that they divide the band into 4 groups
and marching from each point in the compass, converging at the intersection of
Donahue and Heisman for a pep rally before marching into the stadium. I was
familiar with some of the Auburn Band's older customs (they still run from
point to point) but the new traditions were cool to observe.set my mind to becoming
a band director. It worked out Ok as far as I can tell.
|Francesca Marching with Piccolos|
After the pep rally we moved ahead to find out way into the stadium. Along the way we met a couple of Aggie fans and asked them questions like "how do you greet fellow Aggies?". One man said 'Howdy'I have to say that Auburn has a VERY cool pregame tradition of a The weather was getting 'heavy' and the Captain and I each had a respective 4 hour and 3 hour drive in opposite directions so we left right at halftime. On the way out I was standing and a couple walked by me, the young man had on a Bulldogs shirt, his girlfriend an Auburn shirt. I said "Go Dawgs!" and he paused to see if I was for real and then gave me a gusty "Go Dawgs" in return; THAT was a brave soul! And our final couple, a father with his daughter. He began to razz us a little about leaving before the rain got bad when I replied "just like you." He laughed and admitted he was a 'Tide' fan but his little girl wanted to go to Auburn so here they were, and to top it off his name was Lewis Harrison!
|Lewis Harrison (Tide fan) and his daughter|
Their are many mixed families and marriages down here; we love our football (SEC style) but love our families more (or forgive them their choices.