Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Weekend in Michigan City (and Notre Dame)


We made our annual pilgrimage to South Bend for a Notre Dame football game. My record is 3 and 1. They lost last year, but this year they won! And it was a really great game to be at.

We arrived Friday at Midway around 9:30 am, central time. The time zones are all screwed up there b/c the county that South Bend is in doesn't believe in daylight savings time (or something like that) so depending on what time of year we go it's either equal to central or eastern time. This year it was equal to eastern time which really makes the flight times complicated. And to further complicate things, our hotel, in Michigan City, was in a different time zone than ND, the same as the airport. So all weekend I had no idea what time it was, thank goodness my sweetie is very good at that.

We head to South Bend for breakfast at Nick's Patio (there was no patio) and a really lazy day walking around campus on one of the most beautiful days of the year. There wasn't a cloud in the sky(and it was pouring cats and dogs in New England- hee hee hee). We saw the Gold Dome, the Basilica (where the players go to mass every Saturday before the game), the Grotto, the bookstore and a whole lot of beautiful sky. We even sat on a bench before the pep rally where this old guy (like in his 80s) was scalping his tickets. He talked to everyone 'who do you think will win the game?' or 'got tickets for the game tomorrow?' One guy bit and asked about the tickets. The old fellow said he only had one, but it was on the 50 yard line about 11 rows up. The guy looked really amazed and thrilled. Then the old guy said it's $100. Sidenote: the ticket process is really competitive and complicated weighing in how much money you donated and some other stuff i have no idea about but once the tickets are gotten it's quite unethical to sell them for more than face value. It's sort of a gentleman's handshake type thing. People who do sell them for more than face value tend to have their names dragged through the mud- people are relentless about this. Ok, so back to the old guy. So the young guy leaps up and says- no way, you don't sell tickets for more than face value and walks away. The old guy sort-of shrugs and says something about some annual fee he has to pay for season tickets and wants to make up the cost, but the guy is gone. About 30 minutes later he comes back and the old fellow gives him the ticket for $65 and then jumps on his bike and rides off. Quite a funny scene.

It's amazing to be at a ND football game. It's nothing like any UCONN game. There are decades of tradition and respect built into every game. My absolute favorite part of the ND tradition is when you walk into this amazing and mammoth stadium, the ticket takers make a strong point to look into your eyes and say 'Welcome to Notre Dame Stadium'. To every person! It's so cool! The band has about 36 hours of straight activities beginning before the pep rally on Friday night, to the drums section playing at midnight in front of the building with the gold dome. On Saturday fans line up on the sidewalk to cheer on the players from their walk from mass/service to the stadium, all dressed in suits. The dorms have bbqs selling burgers, dogs and brauts to raise money for dorm stuff. Green with body paint people running around. The band has these 'guards' that clear the way for them through crowds. It's a bunch of guys who wear kilts and do a sort of march in front of the band. So the band does a march through campus and into the stadium and people line the streets to cheer them on and clap to the ND fight song. You enter the stadium, and are personally welcomed, which is so cool! It's really old-school with no jumbotron and bleachers throughout except for the high roller seats. All students are given tickets to every home game and all sit in different sections depending on their seniority. They never sit through the whole game, have certain participation in the game (during kick offs they do a cheer, at 3rd down on defense everyone takes their keys out and jingles them (for a key play). I don't think there is music that is piped through loudspeakers, only the band and they can fire up just about anyone. Some songs they play have the entire student section doing things along with it. It is so incredibly cool! AND, oh, my second favorite part- they often have an air force flyover during the national anthem. I just love that. It is truly something to go to a ND game. An ultimate experience to be part of something so big. There is so much respect at a ND game- for the players, for the students, for the band (who ever would have guessed?) for the tradition. I think that's the most amazing thing- the respect for tradition.

GO IRISH!

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