Saturdays mean football, fans and the marching band

Syracuse Orange faithful gathered hours before kickoff to grill, bounce and cheer their way to victory later in the Carrier Dome.

Fulfilling the traditions of fall weekend, thousands of Syracuse University football fans made their way Saturday to The Hill to cheer on the Orange. And sometimes what happens outside the Carrier Dome is just as exciting as what happens inside.

An announced crowd of more than 34,000 witnessed SU’s first win of the season against the Stony Brook Seawolves, following hours of music, refreshments and pre-game atmosphere that makes up  Saturdays.

Photo: Avery Hartmans
Young football fan Eamonn Pendergast of Syracuse joined a pre-game tailgating party Saturday near Marshall Square Mall.

Families were particularly evident for the Stony Brook matchup. Children jumped on the colorful bounce houses filling the quad, SU staff gave away free rubber bracelets emblazoned with "New York's College Team" at the door and kids 12 or younger saw the game for free.

Auburn native Ann Marie Tomandl and her husband brought their two-year-old son for the festivities before the game.

“He really enjoys himself and I hope it’s something we get to do every year as a family,” Tomandl said.

Across the quad, SU Food Services offered hot snacks, such as Philly cheesesteaks, veggie burgers and Gianelli Italian Sausage, under a large white and yellow striped tent. Dave George, director of food services, said they make between 50 to 100 pounds of sausage for each game.

Standing on the steps in front of Hendricks Chapel, members of the SU Marching Band were cheered on by SU fans and members of the Stony Brook band. The marching band is steeped in spirit, but joins in the fun especially once the game is under way.

“When we are performing, we are [playing], but we eat in the stands, we cheer, we boo as much as any other fans because you really enjoy the sport, too,” senior clarinet player Elizabeth Evans said. “So it’s not all work.”

In the parking lots near SU campus, people carried out their own pre-game activities. Alum Brian Baluta and his friends cooked up hot dogs, seasoned shrimp and pork rolls at their annual tailgate party. Baluta picked the Stony Brook game because he thought it was the one SU was most likely to win.

Other fans are more die-hard. They come to every game and often tote along distinct good-luck charms.

Brian Chatman, son of two SU alums, has been a season-ticket holder since 1998. He set up a tailgate party on South Crouse Avenue next to his orange truck, which is as distinct for the orange shag carpet inside as the “Orangeman Boulevard” sign hanging outside.

Ralph Cometti Jr. partied with his wife, Roberta, and co-workers from the nearby Pepsi plant hours before the game. The longtime season ticket holder from Cicero has been attending games for more than 32 years.

Part of their deep-rooted tradition is drinking before the game. They pass around vials of alcoholic shooters and halt conversation to toast each other.

This spirit was carried inside the Carrier Dome, evidenced by the innumerable fans wearing orange shirts and other SU apparel. The good vibes, along with a second-half gridiron rally, helped the Orange win 28-17.

Members of the Web Journalism and Innovation class contributed to this report including Lauren Bradley, Nick DeSantis, Erin Elzo, Tyler Greenawalt, Avery Hartmans, Jayne Jaramillo, Maddy Jones, Alana LaFlore, Lauren Levy, Sarah Loguidice, Michele Maciejewski, Gabriela Ornelas, Farhad Peikar, Joel Raneri, Thomas Rende and Catherine Schur.

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