Pale purple balloons are everywhere.
They line railings, adorn tables and are even tied to trash cans.
It was more than an hour before the Hickman and Rock Bridge football teams squared off at Faurot Field on Friday, but already a large contingent of Kewpies fans had gathered by the purple balloons to tailgate in the parking lot north of the stadium.
Booths have been erected to sell beads, Mardi Gras masks, pom-poms, water bottles and face paintings; a tent has been raised to serve dinner; and speakers have been set up to accommodate student bands.
In the middle of it all is Hickman senior James Saracini, handing out more pale purple balloons to young Kewpies fans. Fans of all ages drop money into the plastic beach bucket hanging from his elbow in exchange for the cotton candy he holds on a tray with his other hand.
“I’ve got to go get more cotton candy,” said Saracini, realizing his second tray is nearly empty.
Where the parking lot wraps around the north end of the stadium, green and yellow balloons come into sight.
Rock Bridge parents are lining up for food, while students are busy designing yellow signs to hang from booths selling seat cushions, lollipops and pictures with mascot, Bruin the Bear.
Chuck Witt, and other members of the Rock Bridge Touchdown Club, are manning a large grill in their official Rock Bridge aprons.
“This is extremely festive,” said Witt, father of Bruins senior linebacker Brandon Lehman. “We didn’t have any tailgates or anything like this before football games in high school.”
Friday night’s pregame atmosphere was not just festive. It was also competitive, as each school attempted to raise the most money for Hurricane Katrina relief efforts. All the money brought in from food and booth sales Friday will be donated to charities assisting in hurricane relief.
The tailgating marked the final event of a six-week competition between the two schools. The Kewpies may have lost the football game, but they won the competition, raising $26,300 in six weeks for hurricane relief. Rock Bridge raised $16,160.
But not all of Friday’s festivities were competitive. With both schools seeking to raise the money to install synthetic turf on their football fields, parents from Hickman and Rock Bridge teamed up.
At one entrance to the stadium, Rock Bridge parent Teresa Briedwell and Hickman parent Jennifer Doty were collecting donations in metallic buckets.
“I’m happy to help both schools,” Briedwell said.
The parents were sporting their school colors. But each wore the other school’s pin to symbolize the group effort.
“It’s all about working together,” Doty said.
The money raised will be split evenly between the two schools.