Monday, November 17, 2008

Florida Classic XXIX at the Citrus Bowl

The end of November means two things: the winter season is nearly here, as is National Stuff-Your-Face Day (also known as Thanksgiving), and secondly, the Florida Classic is returning for another incredible day of fun and football. On Saturday, November 22nd, the historic Citrus Bowl Stadium will fill with nearly 70,000 fans as Bethune-Cookman College and Florida A&M University face off on the field.

More than just a football game, the Florida Classic is a day of tradition and Florida in-state rivalry. The final regular-season game for both Bethune-Cookman and Florida A&M, the Classic is a annual battle between the two teams that has been ongoing since 1925. Every year, the anticipation for this highlight game gets more and more intense as each team hopes to win glory and bragging rights. Last year, Bethune-Cookman won 34-7 in front of a crowd of 65,000 fans. This year, A&M is hoping to take back the Classic victory; they lead the all-time series 44-15-1.

The 29th annual Florida Classic will be a day-long event, starting with FanFare, an official pre-game event for high school and college students, families, alumni, and game attendees. Held at the Citrus Bowl in Lot C, FanFare draws people from all over with its incredible atmosphere of camaraderie and tradition. The Classic is also one of those games where Tailgating is definitely half the fun. Visitors are allowed to use the areas in front or behind their vehicle (not taking over any additional parking spaces) for grilling and drinking.

The Classic also has an incredible halftime show with performances from both teams’ marching bands. Almost more popular than the game itself, the halftime show is the performance of the year for each band, and each team prepares for it extensively. There’s no bathroom breaks or beer runs during this show; fans even stand on walkways near the end zones in order to see the field and performance more clearly.

Due to the popularity of the Bethune-Cookman and A&M marching bands, they’ve even added a second performance, the State Farm Battle of the Bands, on November 21st (the evening before the game) at Orlando’s Amway Arena at 7 pm. These bands are so good, even Hollywood has taken notice – the Bethune-Cookman Marching Wildcats were featured in the film Drumline, which centered on black college marching bands, their drumbeats, and stark rivalry.

For a fun sporting even the entire family can enjoy, don’t miss this annual historic and traditional Orlando game. Kickoff is at 2 pm, though the fun definitely starts with FanFare and other pre-game events. Admission is $40-50 dollars, and since fans are having a harder time attending games due to the economy, upper level seating has been made available for $25. You can also catch the game live on ESPNU, though it’s definitely better to see the game in person among the roaring fans. When the Rattlers and Wildcats face off this year, it’s sure to be one intense and exciting game.


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