Sunday, May 15, 2011

Project 1-2-3: Day 17 - The Making of a Special Spectators Event: The Tailgate

Note: Starting May 1st and continuing for the 123 days leading up to the start of the 2011 college football season, "Project 1-2-3" will share pictures, videos and memorable moments from the last nine years of Special Spectators game day events.

The tailgate serves as the base of operations for nearly every Special Spectators game day event. It's at this location - usually just outside the stadium - where excited families arrive for the start of the event, kids meet many visitors, everyone enjoys a delicious meal and play a game or two.

Families typically arrive two and a half to three hours before kick-off. The kids often meet guests visiting the tailgate including cheerleaders, mascots and student-athletes. Sometimes the families enjoy a private concert courtesy of the host school's marching band.

The kids are always excited to meet the student-athletes who visit the tailgate. Whether it's a seven foot center from the men's basketball team putting a child on his shoulders, playing games like corn hole or touch football, receiving an autograph or just meeting and getting to know each other, the student-athletes are a great source of fun.

It's not a real tailgate unless you include food. Depending on the game's start time, we serve eggs, sausage, potatoes and pancakes for breakfast or hot dogs, hamburgers or BBQ for lunch and dinner. The excitement builds when the kids realize that ice cream sundaes will be served for dessert with their choice of several toppings.

None of this would be possible if not for the imagination and dedication of our volunteers. They are involved from the designing and planning phases through the creation of the event on game day. The Special Spectators volunteers have a variety of experience and may be individuals who expressed an interest in getting involved or employees of a generous corporate partner.