Serving the campus of the University of Alabama since 1894

The Crimson White

Serving the campus of the University of Alabama since 1894

The Crimson White

Serving the campus of the University of Alabama since 1894

The Crimson White

Gameday RVers form culture all their own

To many students, RVs are just another burden on Gameday, forcing them off their own parking lots to make way for gargantuan tailgating contraptions. But, for this special breed of tailgaters, Alabama football is more than a team to root for.

Nick Frenz, assistant director of event management and transportation, said on any given gameday there are 390, usually full, RV parking spots spread over campus. That does not include the 100 free RV parking spots located off campus on McFarland Boulevard.

Sheila and Mike Huddleston, Huntsville, Ala., natives and parents to two Alabama alumnae, have been tailgating by way of their RV for nine years. They got their RV specifically for Alabama football games so their oldest daughter, a former member of Crimson Cabaret, could easily join them in their tailgating activities. They have even gone so far as storing their RV in the Tuscaloosa area to make the trip a little less daunting.

“My daughters were very involved on campus and always wanted to come down and see us and go to the football games,” Sheila Huddleston said. “Because it’s so hard to get hotel rooms, we decided to stay to tailgate so we could all enjoy it together. We have friends over there [at the RV lots] and then friends from Huntsville come and everyone brings food and has a good time.”

The Huddlestons attend all home games when possible and try to attend every Tennessee and Auburn game. During home Iron Bowls, the Huddlestons come the Wednesday before the game and have Thanksgiving in their RV, complete with smoked turkey and side dishes.

“We look forward to it every year and it’s a tradition now,” Sheila Huddleston said. “We bring the smokers and all the sides and decorate for Thanksgiving. No football talk until after we begin the Iron Bowl stuff.”

For the Huddlestons, tailgating has not only introduced them to another league of fandom, but a lifelong friendship. The Huddlestons met Amy and Scott Bradley, originally from Arab, Ala., by way of coincidental RV parking spot assignments. The two families first met five years ago at a home game and have been parking their RVs next to each other and coordinating tailgate food ever since.

“[The Huddlestons] were just so friendly and outgoing and we made a great friendship there,” Amy Bradley said. “We do have friends around us that we talk to every week, but not like the Huddlestons. We visit each other’s homes. I think that’s a lifetime friendship.”

The Bradleys usually come down Friday in their RV, bought especially for tailgating, and leave Sunday afternoon.

“It’s so fun and always upbeat,” Amy Bradley said. “A couple of weeks ago, when we were beat by Texas A&M, I had so many friends call and say, ‘Y’all must be devastated.’ Losing has never messed up our tailgate. Win, lose or draw, we’re always sticking with the Tide. We love the atmosphere. All the kids make us feel young.”

Both families will not be able to make the SEC championship this Saturday, but they can’t wait until next year’s first home game to start the tailgating season all over again.

“You get a lot of best friends come August, and new family members,” Amy Bradley said. “It’s like winning the lottery; they all want to come down. I wish everyone could experience it just once.”

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