Texas A&M fans camp out in Arlington
Jan 04, 2013 (The Eagle - McClatchy-Tribune Information Services via COMTEX) --
After raiding several Aggie tent sales during the Christmas holiday, Anthony Pannone is more than satisfied with the spread of maroon ensembles he's selected for his entire non-Aggie family to don on Friday.
The Texas A&M graduate student said he has plotted an elaborate "Aggieland-style" tailgate party in his hometown of Templeton, Calif., to cheer on the Aggies as they take on the Oklahoma Sooners in the Cotton Bowl Friday.
His friends and family, he said, are in for a surprise -- just like OU.
"The spirit is easily caught," he said with a smug smile.
Pannone, one of an estimated 20 guests at the party, will be the only Aggie.
He said there will be at least 10 white 12th Man towels to be waived proudly, along with all the fixings for a Texas tailgate, including Shiner beer and everything bacon.
"I don't sense the same sort of allegiance in California as I do in Aggieland," said Pannone, who completed his undergraduate degree at California Polytechnic State University. "It's different. You can't explain it. I don't know if it really exists in the same form."
Though tens of thousands of Aggies will likely be rooting for the maroon and white across the nation, a mass of fans are already stationed in Arlington, celebrating outside Cowboys Stadium.
Terri Wren said she and her husband Ralph parked their RV just south of the stadium Wednesday.
"There's a sea of maroon with a little bit of crimson here and there," Wren said of the tailgating scene.
About 75 RVs had already been hitched in their respective places late Thursday, and about 80 percent of them belonged to Aggies, Wren said.
Wren said the weather Thursday was nice, but dark clouds were beginning to roll in late in the day.
"It's gonna be a little chilly, but it won't dampen our Aggie spirit at all," she said.
Though Wren and her husband are not Aggies, she said they are die-hard fans because of their children. Their son Kyle will graduate in 2014, and their daughter Jacee recently received her acceptance letter.
"We are just really pulling for an Aggie victory," Wren said. "I hope it will move us up in the polls for an incredible ending."
Though the pregame celebrations seem to be a little quieter in Aggieland, locals are still pumped for the rivalry.
Dallas Shipp, marketing and communications director for Aggieland Outfitters, said the local A&M gear retailer has seen a spike in sales ever since the Aggies made the switch to the Southeastern Conference.
"It's been a little crazy," Shipp said. "Our online sales had the best year ever -- 2012 nearly doubled 2011 in sales."
In the past two weeks, Shipp said, Cotton Bowl-related merchandise has been hot.
If the Aggies win, Shipp said, all three Aggieland Outfitters locations will carry exclusive licensed merchandise that will be available Saturday when the stores open at 10 a.m.
Several local bars and restaurants, including Murphy's Law, Bavarian Brauhaus in Downtown Bryan and College Station eateries The Fox and Hound Bar and Grill, BJ's Restaurant and Brewhouse, and Boston's Restaurant and Sports Bar, will offer food and drink specials while airing tonight's game.
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