True Blue shines despite cloudy weather
True Blue Avenue was rocking before the Bulls' home opener against Morgan State. Nick Fischetti /// The Spectrum
What began as a cloudy afternoon turned into a beautiful sunny day with plenty of sports, drinks, food, activities and entertainment to keep students partying all afternoon. This was the first True Blue tailgate I've ever been to, but I can guarantee it will not be my last.
I arrived at True Blue Avenue at 3 p.m. and saw what I was expecting: a small crowd in gloomy Buffalo. I decided I better give it some more time; I stopped over at South Lake for about 30 minutes and then made my way back.
When I returned, the party had begun.
Hundreds of students, and even some adults, were outside UB Stadium with the music blasting, including a giant inflatable play pit. I could smell the two grills wherever I was, cooking up an endless supply of burgers and dogs. Students were throwing footballs, shooting baskets and kicking soccer balls all afternoon. It was the ideal environment to prepare for a football game with fellow students, partly in thanks to the presence of alcohol.
Alcohol was of abundance on True Blue Avenue. There was the popular Frisbee throwing game, Kan Jam, about six beer pong tables and enough thirty-racks to supply a fraternity party. Students were playing games like flip cup and dizzy bat up until kickoff; some even continued to party. The sound of a vuvuzela alerted the rest of the party that someone had just won a funnel race.
I found plenty to do while remaining sober. There were face and body paint stations set up, as well as poster making. Hundreds of students were standing on the lawn and the conversations were endless. A basketball hoop was set up in the street and there was also a football throwing station. Music was playing constantly, a mix of deejaying as well as a live band. I had no problems entertaining myself while I waited for my friends to join me later on in the afternoon.
I was able to chat with True Blue President Vincent Buttimer. During our conversation, I realized just how much work goes into getting everything together to throw this party for UB students.
"We want to have a tailgate party similar to ones at schools like Ohio State and Penn State," Buttimer said.
Do I think this will happen? No, but I admire the effort.
We simply don't have a big enough football program to keep up with prestigious football universities like Ohio State.
However, with Buttimer as president, I think UB students will be more than satisfied with what is experienced at the tailgates.
The main attraction is always the "March to Victory." The football team walked out to a screaming crowd of about 200 fans. The team came down the street to a roaring crowd of fans, who supported them every step of the way. But the true highlight for the fans was yet to come.
True Blue premade 500 water balloons in what will now be a True Blue tailgate tradition. In the distance came a student wearing shorts, a helmet and a plain white tee with "Morgan State" written on it.
He came down to a chorus of boos and after the first water balloon was thrown, he took off sprinting. Seconds later, he was soaked and even a little bruised.
Junior Andrew Toenniessen was the victim of the attack. He came out of it smiling and laughing.
"It hurt me way more than I thought it would. I basically wanted to get through there as fast as I could," Toenniessen said.
His parting words left a clear message: "Go Bulls."
One of the highlights of the tailgate was a grill made by the Society of Automotive Engineers, which was pulled by what appeared to be a go-cart. In two days, they built the grill specifically for True Blue. It will be at every tailgate cooking up food. Dozens of students were socializing and checking out the design of the grill. The design won the club seventh place in a competition of 115 in Wisconsin.
It would be a crime not to mention anything about the game itself. Buffalo came out firing and the crowd was just as intense. If you had problems finding a seat, you weren't alone. All I can say is, this is a problem I hope to deal with for the rest of the year: an environment of winning and excitement.
Spanking around a FCS school 56-34 in the home opener doesn't hurt either.
I can't wait for our next home game. Buffalo's next game will be a Wednesday night meeting with Kent State on Sept. 19, which will be broadcast on ESPNU. I can only imagine what True Blue will have up its sleeves for this party.
I wasn't at our last televised game, but from the stories I've heard, it was a raucous crowd and it all begins on True Blue Avenue. I pray that Buffalo is spared that night, and we can have a clear, warm evening with hundreds of people partying both inside and outside of the stadium.
Circle Sept. 19 on your calendars, boys and girls. It's going to be a hell of a night.
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