Thousands attend first MSA tailgate

By Mary Hannahan, Daily Staff Reporter
Published September 11, 2011

In following with the landmark first-ever night football game on Saturday, the Michigan Student Assembly also made school history with its first large-scale tailgate held earlier that day.

The “Under the Lights Tailgate” held at the Sports Coliseum from noon to 7 p.m. offered students free refreshments, including pizza and soda along with the opportunity to win two sets of box seat tickets to the game and a raffle for nine night game replica jerseys.

MSA President DeAndree Watson said the event was an overall success and attracted 8,151 students.

“We’ve had a steady crowd of people that has come through and got some food and enjoyed some entertainment, and then they’ve gone on to other things, and that’s exactly what we expected,” Watson said in an interview at the tailgate.

Apart from the upbeat music reverberating throughout the building, the tailgate featured a variety of student performances by groups such as the Men and Women’s Glee Clubs, FunKtion, the Friars and Groove. Students also had the opportunity to have their faces painted or tattooed before the game to show their school spirit.

Watson said MSA held the event because the assembly anticipated students would be out drinking for a longer period of time due to the late start of the game.

“We wanted to give them an alcohol-free venue to be able to have some fun and get excited before the game,” he said.

Watson also said if there are night games in future seasons, students can expect MSA to continue to hold similar events.

Alys Alley, chief programming officer for MSA, said she doesn’t think the number of students who showed up was affected by the change in venue from the tailgate’s original location at Elbel Field. The tailgate was moved to the Sports Coliseum on South Fifth Avenue because Elbel Field was wet from previous rain.

“We were disappointed that it had to be moved inside, but it really hasn’t cut down the number of students we’ve been able to serve, and we were really expecting this many students to come,” Alley said at the event. “It was a lot of fun, and it’s really nice we didn’t have to mess with the rain or anything.”

After a long day of tailgating and with cries of “free pizza” to everyone passing by, the free food proved to be a major draw for students.

“I came mostly for the free food and just being around fellow students,” LSA sophomore Noelle Gibeson said. “Free food is definitely a big part of it, but I think we’re going to stay around for the games and sign up to win prizes or maybe come back.”

LSA sophomore Alexa Wright echoed these sentiments, saying she came to the MSA tailgate with a friend to get free food and to have their faces painted.

“I think it’s a good thing for it to be here because I guess a majority of pre-gaming is if you know someone at a house or if you know someone at a frat, so if you don’t, you have something to do,” Wright said. “Anybody can come.”

LSA freshman Danyaal Rangwala said he came to the MSA tailgate to experience the atmosphere.

“It’s the first night game, it’s a rivalry and just the feeling here is electric, and everyone is excited for it,” Rangwala said at the event. “I came here just to hype myself up more for the game, and you get to meet a ton of other people who are just as excited as you.”

Alumni Association celebrates night game

Though Saturday’s game started much later than usual, it didn’t stop University alumni from starting the festivities early.

As mobs of people gathered near ESPN’s outdoor setup for the company’s College GameDay on Ingalls Mall, the Alumni Association shared in the excitement by hosting a free event Saturday morning and providing free coffee, donuts and fruit for past and current students.

“With GameDay being out here, it was a great opportunity for us to be able to offer something to alums and students, and so we created this opportunity for people to be able to have a place to come in out of the rain or whatever might be happening,” said Steve Grafton, president and CEO of the Alumni Association.

About 1,500 alumni were registered for the event, according to Grafton.

“It’s fun to build this atmosphere on a day that’s as big as this,” he said. “We have people from one year old to probably close to 100, and that’s kind of what the Michigan family is about.”

As the morning progressed, more alumni began to arrive with their families. University alum Jennifer Edwards, a 1992 graduate and Michigan Marching Band alum, said she took her kids to the Saturday morning event so they could be a part of the Michigan spirit.

“The kids got to meet the drum major, which was probably the highlight of their day,” Edwards said.

University alum David Dye, another class of 1992 graduate, said he decided to come to Ann Arbor on Saturday to see former Michigan football and NFL player Desmond Howard, who was in his graduating class. Howard, currently an ESPN College GameDay analyst, was honored at Saturday’s game with the first-ever “Michigan Football Legend” award.

“People offered me several hundred dollars for parking and tickets, but I said I just can’t do it because we have to go to the game,” Dye said. “There’s not a price on the first-ever night game and Desmond being on campus — memories are forever.”