Georgia fans celebrate on Lowry Mall before game

Saturday, September 8, 2012 | 7:13 p.m. CDT; updated 6:25 p.m. CDT, Sunday, September 9, 2012

University of Georgia student Bryan Brinson takes a photo of passing Missouri and Georgia fans Saturday on Tiger Avenue. Brinson is a senior at the University of Georgia and has not missed a game in three years.


Georgia fans gather at the Georgia tailgate Saturday on Lowry Mall. More than 900 Georgia fans attended the tailgate.


Ted Lerner and Jason Meucci relax before the game at the Georgia tailgate on Lowry Mall.


Bill Nichols, Jim Stokes and Bruce Bray cheer with other Bulldogs fans at the Georgia tailgate on Lowry Mall. The fans expected Georgia to shut out Missouri.

COLUMBIA — Hundreds of Georgia fans gathered on Lowry Mall to celebrate before Saturday's game, but early that morning, one bulldog stood alone. 

"I woke up, looked outside to our front lawn and saw a bulldog stuffed animal with a noose around his neck and a bunch of "Go Mizzou" signs," Columbia resident and Georgia fan Marianne Beverstein said.

"The perpetrator struck between 3 a.m. and 6 a.m," her husband, Georgia alumnus John Beverstein, said with a smile.

The Beversteins live four miles outside of Columbia. "We're Bulldogs in Tigers Country," Beverstein said. The family, who was at the Lowry Mall event Saturday, has season tickets for both Missouri and Georgia football.

The Georgia Alumni Association sponsored a tailgate at MU's Lowry Mall on Saturday afternoon, which sold out last week, according to the association's website. 

Frances Beusse, who is with the alumni association, said more than 800 people preregistered for the event, and the association printed 1,000 wristbands.

"When Georgia fans travel, they're excited. They travel readily and willingly," said Tom Landrum, Georgia Alumni Association senior vice president for external affairs. 

And travel they did. For Saturday's game, they did so in large numbers, showing off their team's distinctive styles and traditions.

Brian Fuller, a '98 alumnus, surveyed the sea of red on Lowry Mall.

"This is small," Fuller said.

He said that 25,000 Georgia fans made a trip last football season to Arizona State University. On his flight to Columbia from Atlanta, he said, Georgia cheers were blaring from the loudspeakers. Delta added an additional flight each way from Atlanta to Columbia to accommodate Georgia fans.

Fuller wore khaki pants patterned with small patches with the Georgia "G" logo. He said the style is also popular with fans from Ole Miss, a group Fuller said Georgia fans compete with for the title of most fashion-forward. 

"We argue over who's the best dressed, who has the prettiest girls. Auburn does OK too, they're pretty stylish," Fuller said. 

Saturday's game day pants aren't the only pair Fuller owns, but if his team does well, they're the only ones he'll be wearing this season. 

"I'll wear them every game," he said. "I'll change my outfit if we lose." 

Mariellen Bateman, an alumna from the class of '62, showed off her handmade bracelet with custom Georgia charms. She picked up another bracelet, a thin, silver chain, at Bluestem Missouri Crafts while shopping in downtown Columbia yesterday. She said people were helpful and friendly. 

"I hope we can return some of the hospitality when Missouri fans come to Athens," Bateman said.

Georgia fans repeatedly said Saturday that they felt enthusiastically welcomed to Columbia. 

Peggy Gales is a former member of the Georgia Alumni Association's board. She said when she traveled to South Carolina and Arkansas for both schools' inaugural SEC seasons, enthusiasm wasn't as high as it is in Columbia. 

"Folks are a lot more excited here. It's very visible," Gales said. "Joining the SEC is clearly a big deal for Missouri fans.

"Conference pride really comes down to the South vs. the North. It's those damn Yankees!" 

Gales looked sheepish. "Sorry," she said. "In Georgia, you really can't say the word 'Yankees' without 'damn' in front of it." 

Supervising editor is Elizabeth Brixey.

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