Anyone from Tiger country is a fan. It doesn’t matter your alma mater, the LSU Tigers are the state team and part of the social fabric in Baton Rouge. Being married to a boy from Denham Springs, LA (a “small resort town” just outside of Baton Rouge), I have watched a fair number of LSU games so wasn’t surprised to find our rig pointed in the direction of Tiger Stadium during football season. And what a season! The Tigers beat Alabama and are now the SEC Champions bound for the college playoffs.
As an example of Tiger-mania, when we attended mass, it was the first weekend of Advent. I was impressed to see how attuned the congregation was to the liturgical season as most of the church was dressed in purple. Then I realized it was a game day – they were dressed to celebrate the Tigers.
Being in Barry’s hometown, we were able to see several of Barry’s high school friends. The Armoneys invited us to join a few of their friends to hang out and play Cajun Craps. It is fun and easy as long as you can add dice, which gets surprisingly harder as the night goes on.
Ladies at the Armoney house including high school friends, Mary Poole and Beckie Armoney on far right. Barry with Michelle Holmes outside of church and most of the gang gather for drinks – Shel Taylor, Timothy Sistrunk, Barry and Doug Poole.
We also got to see Vicky, Barry’s sister and tour her “new” home. After the flood, she essentially had to rebuild the house and it looked great!
Of course, the centerpiece of our visit was the Tigers. Luckily, we had great guides in finding how to celebrate them. To say the Armoneys are fans could be a serious understatement. One room of their lovely home is dedicated to the Tigers and Bryan admits that tailgating is his hobby. He has been tailgating at Tiger games, claiming the same spot for his towable tailgate trailer for almost 20 years.
All good schools have long-standing traditions and the Tigers are no exception. Tailgating starts early in the morning (or for some, the night before) and is HUGE. There were hundreds of RVs and tents set up to tailgate in the parking lots around Tiger Stadium. (Sadly, Big Al did not join in the fun – at $300 per spot, we choose to Uber with friends to join Bryan.) It is amazing to see all the ways folks decorate their rigs in purple and gold.
We headed over to the stadium before the game in time to see the team come over the hill and walk down the street amid all the fans. Dressed in their nicest (and sometimes colorful) street clothes, the players and coaches get high fives, cheers, and shoutouts as they enter the stadium. Then the Tiger Band comes over the hill, making a grand entrance to play and excite up the crowd even more.
We did learn one fun fact as we were vying for a great spot to watch the entrances. We noticed a police caravan entering the stadium with two prisoner vans, escorted by two police SUVs. When the police come out later, we realized they were delivering the referees to the stadium. A friend of Barry’s, who referees college games, confirmed that the refs are brought in prisoner vans . Apparently, LSU is the only school that this does this. We’re not sure why but can guess at a few potential reasons.
With this kind of serious tailgating – sitting outside with the pots of gumbo, large screen televisions and your own beverages – we choose to watch the game outside rather than go in the stadium. It looked like many others made the same decision.
As we head out of Louisiana and back to Dallas, we keep the faith and say Geaux Tigers on to National Championship!