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

Tailgaters take tradition to Alabama thriller

Here at The University of Alabama, tradition is used synonymously with our football team. Many Alabama football fans keep traditions of their own by traveling with the team wherever they play. The SEC championship in Atlanta, Ga., this weekend was no exception.

Billy and Tina Kitchens, season ticket holders since 1987 and natives of McDonough, Ga., have always chosen to tailgate in their RV. Billy Kitchens is the cousin of starting quarterback for The University of Alabama’s 1995-1997 team Freddie Kitchens. Their lhasa alpso, Nick (after Nick Saban), has come to every game with them for the past two years.

“I don’t think there’s that big of a difference between home games and bowl games like today,” Tina Kitchens said. “During a bowl game there’s a little bit more hype, but I think it’s always a good time any time you go.”

The Kitchens prefer the RV treatment at their home turf in Tuscaloosa, where they usually park at Bryce by the softball fields, but they were satisfied with their placement during the SEC championship in Atlanta, Ga.

“There’s a lot of times, especially the bowl games, that they have RV parks close to the venue, and they’ll have a bus service so we don’t have to worry about driving since we don’t tow our car,” Tina Kitchens said.

Although the majority of home games are spent with a regular friend group of two or three RVs, the Kitchens enjoy the new friends they make at bowl games.

“One thing about going to the bowl games, there’s a lot of people we’ve met over the years that we don’t usually tailgate with during the home games,” Tina Kitchens said. “We have our little group we usually tailgate with and get to park together, but we love to get to see a lot of new friends at bowl games like today.”

The farthest they have been to tailgate in their RV is to California when Alabama played UCLA in 2000.

“You get in early and leave late,” Billy Kitchens said. “I was here at 4:30 a.m. on Friday morning. It’s so easy, you get here, set up and you don’t have to worry about going anywhere.”

The majority of the Kitchens’ time before the game is spent cooking for any friends who stop by. Tom Carter, a Georgia fan and friend of the Kitchens said that the money they spend just to feed everyone is unreal. He said he was excited he got to come down to be in Atlanta and have a place to tailgate.

Alabama fans are not the only ones who travel with their team to bowl games. There were plenty of Georgia tailgating groups intermingling between the Alabama RVs.

Wendell Hutchins, an avid Georgia fan, has been tailgating with his RV since 1972. After seeing his sister’s RV he knew he had to join in on the tailgating festivities. Hutchins said he loves getting to know the opposing fans and makes an attempt to get along with them at every game.

“There are a lot of ‘Dawg’ motor homes that come to every game,” Hutchins said. “The best part about them is that they have bathrooms in them. We drink a lot of cold beer so we need a bathroom.”

Doug Sharp, a friend of Hutchins who was at his tailgate, has been tailgating with Georgia for the past 20 years.

“It’s [RVs] more a part of the culture at Georgia,” Sharp said. “It’s all about family. But, as a general rule we welcome just about everyone.”

Near and far, fans of all persuasions came out to support their team in luxury for the SEC championship, complete with good friends, good food and a bathroom.

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