Clemson Athletics' Social Summer promotion continues today, July 3, with Web Wednesday. Each week a story that encompasses the Clemson experience will be featured on our webpage. This week's memory comes from Kevin Brown. Kevin tells how his grandfather instilled in him a deep love of the Tigers.
My greatest memories about Clemson weren't just the games, but everything that led up to them. The trip down and festivities before the game even started were as memorable as the game itself. It goes all the way back to the early 90's when I was 6 or 7 years old. Trips to Clemson were a regular thing every fall for my grandfather (Paw Paw), my brother Kirk, my cousin Bryan, and myself. As kids, sleep on Friday nights was impossible. We looked so forward to the next day that we would go to sleep with our x-small jerseys and pants on just so we wouldn't waste any time the second it was time to leave. The first thing we did every Saturday morning was put dozens of magnetic tiger paws and Clemson stickers all over my grandfather's Ford truck. Once that task was complete, we put orange tiger paw flags on the windows of the truck. The drive from Forest City, NC to Clemson, SC could then begin.
We were so excited to show everyone we passed our pride and love for our Tigers!!!! The 4 hour trip seemed like an eternity. Luckily we had our FM/AM radio on the Tiger Tailgate Show the whole way to keep us company. It wouldn't be until we saw the infamous tiger paws on the road to Clemson that we knew, 'Yes we are almost there!' Upon arrival in Clemson, we would book it straight for downtown. There, we would shop for hours, making sure we got the cheerleaders to paint tiger paws on our faces. As kids, we mostly liked the face paint because the cheerleaders always gave us a kiss on the cheek after, but we still loved supporting our Tigers with our face paint nonetheless. After that we hit up Knickerbockers, that was my favorite place. Despite the countless dollars of Clemson merchandise we already had, every Saturday was another day our Paw Paw would make it a point to update Bryan, Kirk, and my Tiger inventory with the newest hats, jerseys, and t-shirts. The next stop would be Bowman Field to throw the football. Special days like Homecoming and Military Appreciation Day with all the floats and helicopters out there were like heaven on earth for me.
Our final destination would be our parking spot in the SW parking lot near the big forest hill. Luckily for us kids, not so much our Paw Paw who had to walk the longer way, we took the scenic route through the forest hill. The elevated hike gave us the best view of the entire tailgate scene. There were Tiger fans as far as the eye could see. It made us so proud to witness a sea of orange of thousands of people just like us ready to cheer on our Tigers! Once we met Paw Paw at the other end of the woods we would go to The Tiger Tailgate Show near Littlejohn Coliseum and spend the rest of our time there throwing the ball, listening to the radio announcers, playing games, competing with other kids for the prizes they would throw out to the crowd... an absolute blast!
Then it came time to go into the stadium. Paw Paw let me hold the tickets which I thought was the coolest, most important job as a kid. I made sure I held on very, very tight so as not to lose them. Once we got to our seats in the West Endzone, I waited anxiously with a program and hot dog in hand for the band to start playing. I knew then that at any moment the buses would pull up. I waited as patiently as I could to see those players gather together at the top of the hill. To me, they looked like superheroes. Once I heard that cannon go off, my heart would skip a beat every time.
Some kids saw their favorite superheroes every Saturday morning on Saturday morning cartoons... I watched mine rub Howard's Rock and run down The Hill. BEST MEMORIES OF MY LIFE!!
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