By Austin Eck
As the afternoon sun beats down on Floyd Casey Stadium and the surrounding area, students, alumni and others make the pilgrimage to the 63-year-old home of Baylor football.
Parents buy their children snow cones that needed to be flavored. As soon as the parent hands their child the snow cone, the kid races to the yellow cart next to the vendor to add any flavor (or in most cases flavors) to their cool treat. Coconut, cherry, strawberry and a concoction called “tiger’s blood” all stain the pure ice as they flow into the cup.
Grills large enough to roast a pig are parked next to RV’s. Every time the grill-master opens his grill a large plume of smoke rushes out and races upwards to join the clouds. The grill can host a variety of culinary treats, but hamburgers and hot dogs are the most common.
Portable satellites are rigged to the top trucks, so tailgaters can enjoy college football games. The scene resembles a county fair, family cookout and football game wrapped into one afternoon of food, sports, friends and family.
Fans arrived hours before kickoff to tailgate and to celebrate the new football season. Some fans will circulate throughout the area and take advantage of free food and drinks from organization’s tailgates. Others will lay claim to the area next to their car and set up a makeshift campsite complete with grill, television and picnic tables.
When attendees set foot in the grassy parking lots around the stadium they noticed the smell of burgers on the grill, the sound of music blaring from a speaker, friends tossing a football between rows of cars. All of these stimuli caused visitors to momentarily forget the 103-degree temperatures.
Chandler freshman Patrick McCarthy was attending his first Baylor football game as a student.
“The best part is the atmosphere and getting ready to win,” McCarthy said.
McCarthy was taking a respite in the shade of a tent, but said he was going to enjoy every possible minute of tailgating including meeting people and finding free water before going into the stadium to run the line.
Like McCarthy, Keith Fitzgerald, Spring senior, noted the atmosphere surrounding the stadium prior to kickoff. Fitzgerald partook in the Phi Delta Theta, his fraternity, tailgate that included a disc jockey booth and televisions.
Fitzgerald arrived at the stadium around 3:15 p.m., but said his fraternity’s tailgate started at 9 a.m.
The best thing about tailgating is the free food and hanging out with lots of people, he said.
Just a few paces from the student-tailgating zone, 4-year-old Caden Cox sits in the shade of his family’s canopy next to his father, Justin Cox. As he flips through the game program, he points out a picture of Robert Griffin III, his favorite player.
The Cox family has season tickets and returns to Waco from Georgetown for every home game.
“My favorite part is hanging out with my son,” Justin Cox 2004 Baylor alumnus said.
Typically, the family will grill hot dogs and hamburgers while tailgating, but because of the heat on Saturday they opted for sandwiches. Not having the grill kept the tailgate cooler.
“The key to a good tailgate is good food and good company,” he said.
When the gates opened, people filtered their way into the stadium to find their seats, and only a few stragglers remained at their tailgates.
Baylor will play its second home game this 2:30 p.m. Saturday against University at Buffalo. Shuttles will run from campus to Floyd Casey Stadium starting at 11:30 a.m. to give students and fans time to visit tailgates.