The pungent scent of hickory and barbecue fills the air. Laughs can be heard ringing from every corner of the parking lot. Tyrone Davis’ and Marvin Cease’s voices are the most recognizable things pumping through the speakers. Faces of every shade of brown are smiling and inviting me to come into their camps for just a moment of my time. It’s a family reunion of sorts. It’s Homecoming. This yearly event is one of those things that brings people from all walks of life together and have one common thread a love for Grambling State University. The way many alumni decided to celebrate the event was through the art of tailgating.
Tailgating is what a lot of football fans do for a game and are usually not going to attend the contest. Foods that are likely to be seen at a tailgating event in Louisiana are gumbo, jambalaya, potato salad and an assortment of barbecue meats. There were participants who had unusual things like Hot Pockets and other breakfast items to hold their families over until the food was done.
Tailgater, Janice Daye had been at the site since 6:30 p.m. that morning and her food to had not even finished yet. It didn’t take long for the food began to give off an aroma that would make mouths water.
As I stood there trying to concentrate the tailgaters only made it worst when the times for their respective dishes to be ready were shot at me with such fervor that it seemed like they were forcing me to come back eat their food. And as a reporter, I only felt obligated to acquiesce the request my fellow Gramblinites.
But what really struck me was that the people in the parking lot did not even have tickets to the game but were just happy to be in the same area as other alumni.
“Tailgating for a GSU football game is like a big family reunion to celebrate the black and gold,” said Louise Commings, an alumna of ’83 from Tallulah.
The feelings of family reunion were definitely what I felt as I walked through the tailgating sites looking at all the people that were there. Some like Commings even had tents, games, and snacks for their children to eat on before the food got ready. Families from all over the U.S. came together and celebrated.
A group of alumni from Shreveport who call themselves “Soul Groove” were really the group that stood out to me. The group consists of Kerry and Greg Horton, Stanley Taylor, and Delnort Cooksie who were alumni that came to celebrate. They had their speakers and turntables set up and acted as makeshift DJ’s. They even let me get on the microphone for a minute and say a few words.
It was at this moment that I realized how much of a family that GSU alumni really are. The one comment that I kept receiving was that these types of events are about the only time when we can come together as a people and not have anyone shooting, fighting, and killing.
When I attended my first Homecoming (as an adult), I did not see how many people that you meet at college become your second family. However, this year I saw that something as simple as tailgating at a football game can bring old friends back together and have them acting like the 18-year-olds they were when they first met on the yard.