I spent the first half of Homecoming Day in my traditional manner. I went to the parade. Found a great spot on top of the garage at 6th and Locust and got some photos from an unusual angle. I only stayed for part of the parade, as I had a lunch date and the parade had been delayed due to the ESPN GameDay festivities. Highlight of the part of the parade I saw was the Mexico Goat with the “Butt the Sooners” banner.
Then I met up with Stanko for our 3rd Annual Stevi & Stanko Homecoming Adventure. We had Nachos Bianco at Addison’s. Then went to Tiger Spirit to get some MU swag (as if we both don’t have enough already). Then to Sparky’s for ice cream. To the Quad for pictures. And pretty much just roaming downtown and campus until it was time for her to meet her tailgating friends.
I walked with them to their lot. Lot X at the corner of College & Stadium was overflowing and quite spirited. A little girl (about 4 years old) stood on the edge of the lot with a M-I-Z sign, trying to elicit Z-O-U’s from the passersby. I wished the group happy & safe tailgating and walked back to my car at Broadway and Providence.
I arrived home exhausted. I downloaded my pictures, traded stories with The Ferg, and got a little rest before the game. The Ferg and I watched the first half with the Rock people at MemU, then went home to listen while editing our pics from earlier in the day. As the minutes were counting down and it looked like Mizzou was not going to throw the game away, The Ferg said “if they pull the goalposts down, I want to go downtown to see it.” After I picked my jaw up off the floor, I said “OK, let’s get ready then.” He said, “Do you really think they’ll do it?” “Uh yes. It’s Oklahoma, those posts are coming down.” So we pulled on our shoes, grabbed the camera, extra batteries and the vuvuzela and as we saw the post making it’s way out of the stadium, we headed for downtown.
We knew parking would be horrible, so we took the first spot we found on 10th, just north of Broadway. We crossed to 9th, and peeked at the already large crowd gathered outside of Harpo’s. I was willing to just stay there and wait for the posts to arrive, but The Ferg wanted as much of the experience as possible. We trekked down 9th and met up with the crowd at the corner of Elm. We took some pics from the sidewalk. I blew my vuvuzela from the stairs of United Methodist, earning a great response from the crowd (at least some people appreciate it!). Then we ran out of good spots for far away pics and The Ferg grabbed me and pulled me into the pack. He kept gently pushing through the crowd in that determined way he has, and before I knew it, we were right next to the goalpost. We saw a couple Rock folks, but lost track of them somewhere around Cherry as the crowd filled the street.
Upon arrival at the corner of 10th & Cherry, the crowd grew deafening. With each round of M-I-Z-Z-O-U, I could see The Ferg wincing from the noise, but he wasn’t giving up. As the crowd pressed and surged, I wrapped my arms around him and tried to stay upright. When the dude in front of us held up a reciprocating saw, I was ready cut and run. I saw the injuries after the Nebraska game in 2003, I know what happens when sharp objects and drunken obsessive fans cross paths. But The Ferg was determined to get as many pictures as possible. He was furiously snapping shots as the saw went halfway through. There wasn’t room to get an angle to keep cutting with the reciprocating saw, so another guy tried a hacksaw for about 3 seconds before it broke. Then the dude reluctantly handed off his reciprocating saw to a guy on the opposite side of the post, who finished the job. After the two halves were raised to shouts of “Stand it up, stand it up!” The Ferg decided to let the true fans in to start hacking off their prized pieces.
Getting out of the crowd was pretty easy, if not quick. Finally, we made it across the street to the steep yard of the corner house. From the top of the hill we got some more shots of the crowd, and some video. I had some fun back and forth “conversation” with another vuvuzela player, though I never saw it. We saw the arrival of the second arm of the goalpost. Then we headed for the parking garage to get some wider shots of the whole crowd.
All in all, it was much more civilized than I would have imagined. Though the crowd was probably mostly drunk and definitely buzzing on adrenaline, it never felt out of control in a scary way. There was no aggression in the crowd, no jerk-like behavior. It certainly wasn’t a place to be careless, that’s for sure. Falling would have been disastrous. But I’ve been in more aggressive crowds before. The cops who were holding off traffic didn’t seem overly concerned, aside from making sure the crowd didn’t spill out into traffic.
I never would have imagined taking part in this particular MU tradition. During my years as a student, there weren’t any wins big enough to trigger it. I missed my best chance in 2003, being stuck in traffic on Providence while trying to meet up with friends. Then in 2005, the University got all authoritarian about it, claiming they’d never let it happen again. I’m not sure why I really believed that. The weird thing is, it seems so unlikely until the moment when you suddenly realize it’s inevitable. I think for those of us who have been around awhile, we try not to get our hope up too high. But then there’s that moment, when you just know that the win is secure, and the crowd is so hyped, and the only rational response is for the goalposts to come down.
Also check out my friend’s post: Mizzou Madness
On a side note, the Kansas City Wizards also won on Saturday – their last game of the season and last game at Community America Ballpark. This happy guy to the left is Birahim Diop. He pretty much won the game for KC with a surprise hat trick. Stole all the glory of the night. I watched the game on my laptop while listening to the MU game.