Someone once told me that I didnt have a normal Southern upbringing because my family never partook in the art of college football -- and they were right. My upbringing was centered on Southern rock n roll, not the southeastern football conference.
I did not go to a college with a football team (although they have one now). I once asked the dire question about the identity of a man in a photo, only to be looked at like I had grown a second head and told, You dont recognize Vince Dooley? It only grew more awkward that I still didnt know who this man was.
Later in life, I married into a family where my father-in-law is a former all-American football player with the University of Tennessee. And college football is now a vital part of my job and the community I love to call home.
Four years ago I became a bona fide Bear as a Mercer University employee with the College Hill Alliance. Part of the charge of our office is to support and promote efforts that increase the cool college vibe of our community.
So, this Saturday is a big one for us. And its not just about a football game; its about the experience that comes along with it.
The citywide tailgate, stretching from the Georgia Sports Hall of Fame on Cherry Street Plaza to Mercer Village and all the way through campus, is one of the most important events to arrive in Macon since the introduction of Yoshino cherry trees. The economic impact of tailgating and the 12,000-plus expected to arrive Saturday is staggering.
But whats even more exciting is this isnt just a chance to boost local business. Its a wide-open playing field of opportunity to start new community traditions, bolster a pride we can all share and stamp out our own take on what tailgating will look like.
Even though the game is sold-out, participating in the pre-game celebration remains open to everyone. Find a tailgating spot in Cherry Street Plaza or Mercer Village. Pack a picnic and take it to Tattnall Square Park. Be an ambassador to a town that has something to celebrate.
The Mercer Bears our now our hometown team. Theyll never be sold to another city. Theyre colors will remain tried and true. Their impact extends far beyond campus. This team -- our team -- is playing for keeps.
Jessica Walden is the director of communications for the College Hill Alliance and co-operator of Rock Candy Tours. Contact her at 478-955-5997 or firstname.lastname@example.org.