By Faith LeMelle
Louisiana State University hosted the Southern University of Louisiana for the first time in over one hundred years. But this event was not just about football. It was about the unity of the residents of Baton Rouge at Tiger Stadium on Sept. 9.
“This game is an amazing opportunity to gather as a community and celebrate!” the mayor of Baton Rouge, Sharon Weston Broome tweeted on Sept. 6.
Both campuses are nearly ten miles apart and each has competitive athletic programs. Both schools have Division 1 programs and fans showed up in large numbers for the tailgate. The game sold out at full capacity as both schools have active student bodies and alumnae who came out to support the teams. The tailgate takes place as part of the pregame activities before the game.
“Both schools actively support the other when playing at home, and it felt great to see everyone enjoy themselves before we compete later today,” said Zaria Pittman, a graphic design major at LSU from Woodmore, Md. who decided to attend LSU.
The tailgate was hosted outside the Acadian Hall on Unity Field. The school partners with Greek organizations or clubs, who rented tents for the evening and gave out free food and drinks. A tailgate is a face-to-face social network where complete strangers bond over food and drink, and everyone is eager to share.
Everyone came together to enjoy each other’s company, food, and music. People from all over the nation traveled to see this rivalry but arrived as early as 12 p.m. to get there to celebrate with other Louisiana residents. The tailgate was from 12 p.m. to 6:30 p.m., but the event was packed even before 11 a.m. Food and alcohol were passed out freely from various tents. The Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity dished out barbecued chicken and their concoction of mixed alcohol, also known as Ape Spit, and the Omega Psi Phi Fraternity passed out chicken, and turkey necks, as well as their “Que Oil.”
“[This] was a collective effort to provide a historic matchup in Baton Rouge history,” said Craig Johnson, a computer science major from Monroe, La., who attends LSU.
There were also food trucks available in the parking lots or people selling water bottles out of containers since the only drinks given out were free alcohol on this hot sunny day.
In the midst of all the food and drinks served, there was the main DJ playing music. From dance shuffles to old school to hip hop to jazz, there was a mass spread of nostalgia as thousands of people enjoyed music and food. Thousands of fans from different areas across the nation unify to do well-known dance shuffles like “The Wobble,” “Cupid Shuffle,” or even “The Bunny Hop.”
“[This was] the event of the fall that you don’t want to miss,” said Kaylin Moore, a Southern student who is a graphic design major from Woodland, Md. “This tailgate allows me to continue to make my fellow Baton Rouge friends and enjoy the company of good people.”
Alumni said the event was one that would go down in Louisiana history.
“Every year, the local residents come out to the tailgate, but the environment was better,” said Jeralyn Floyd, a Monroe, La. native who attended Southern. “This tailgate felt like a big family reunion with my distant cousins and friends,” Floyd said.