Kegs, Warmth Return for 120th Game

Sunny weather is only consolation for fans of the defeated New Haven safety school

Lowell K. Chow

Beer funnels and kegs returned to student tailgate parties at the Harvard-Yale Game in New Haven Saturday.

The Harvard football team crushed Yale yesterday in New Haven but for many it was the balmy weather, a bomb scare and the usual beer-soaked fun that marked the 120th playing of The Game.

Students rolled into town in cars, trailers and U-Hauls starting Friday night, and by 9 a.m. Saturday seemingly never-ending lines stretched across the Yale Bowl parking lot.

By 10 a.m., many students were already soaked with beer and firing up their grills.

“Students abandoned their books for kegs and their shirts for forgotten yet photographed humiliation,” declared Alexander R. Pearson ’07.

Although many had set out at the crack of dawn, problems with the shuttle buses to the fields made some students worry that they would never even get to see The Game—or at least the parking lot.

Many students complained of late shuttle departures, lost drivers and overall confusion.

“The shuttle I was on drove around New Haven for an hour and a half. We eventually got off the bus and just walked to the stadium,” said Camilo A. Mejia ’04. “It was a mess. It was chaotic, just like it is every two years.”

More threatening to the masses of eager football fans was a temporary bomb scare that had the New Haven and Yale police cordoning off part of the Bowl’s perimeter and searching it with bomb-sniffing dogs (Please see related story, at left).

New Haven and Yale Police found an unidentifiable package just before 8 a.m. and quickly sealed off the Bowl. But the questionable package turned out to be a harmless device that would release fire-works and a banner over the stadium reading “No School on Monday”—most likely a prank by some miscreant Elis gone awry.

Despite the bad judgement of the pranksters, police finished up the search promptly and The Game’s start was not delayed.

For some of the students who began flooding the tailgates as early as 9:30 a.m., The Game inside the Bowl was not the main attraction.

Hard-core tailgaters took drastic measures to get a good spot in the lot, even sleeping on the grass outside the Bowl, in their U-Hauls with their kegs or, more comfortably, in trailers.

“We rented an RV and slept in a field last night,” said Natalie Vaz MacLean ’03.

Many could not tear themselves away from the festivities—which included beer funneling, dancing to blasting music on top of U-Hauls and consuming truck-loads of food—literally.

“I mean, who goes to The Game anyways?” said Yale sophomore Alexander Schwed as he drank beer at one of Yale’s many tailgates. “This is Ivy League football.”

For some Harvard students, the purpose of their journey from Cambridge was not the football.

“We’re not going to The Game. We’re tailgating. Come on. Come ON,” said Peter D. Stemp ’04, who was wearing purple, silver and green Mardi Gras beads around his neck and a beer-soaked shirt.

Aside from a few new tailgates—including a tailgate sponsored by Latino groups that featured a roasted pig—students agreed that the biggest difference from last year’s cold and muddy game day was the beautiful weather in New Haven.

“It’s a hell of a lot warmer!” said Rebecca E. Keegan ’04 of this year’s Game as she drank and chatted with friends in just a t-shirt.

The warm weather allowed Harvard students to proudly display t-shirts berating their mediocre rival college to the south, with snappy slogans like “We’ll kick their asses today and fire their asses tomorrow” and “What do Harvard and Yale students have in common? They both got into Yale.”

But aside from the biting slogans, there did not appear to be much animosity between students.

“I tried to pick a couple of fights, but no one would have it,” said Jack M. Marsh ’06.

And with Yale giving Harvard little competition on the field, Yalies and Cantabrigians may have even become closer.

“I thought Harvard students were belligerent and that they studied a lot harder than we do. But the ones I met were really nice and fun,” said Yale sophomore Emily Wang.

The Game also brought out thousands of alums, spurring some who had graduated years before to try their hand at beer pong again.

“Harvard-Yale tailgates never get old. I’m sure when I’m ninety, I’ll still be tailgating,” said more recent alum Eliot J. Rushonich ’03.

Some alums had more reservations about returning.

“I feel old,” said Yale alum Lorelei S. Wall ’03. “This is my first year back and I still don’t know anyone here.”

Any alums who ventured into the rows of Harvard tailgates also had to face the antics of the undergraduate revelers—and some alums who were partying like they did in their college days.

There were some run-ins with New Haven police officers, during what Schwed termed events of “drunken debauchery.”

“I had a urination incident,” said Steve M. Davis ’03. “The police harassed me, but they have no evidence. They didn’t see anything.”

One tailgate over, members of the New Haven Police Department wearing cowboy hats climbed on top of the U-Haul for the Yale School of Medicine tailgate and were cheerfully dancing with students.

As the day wound down, students celebrated Harvard’s conquest of Yale and slowly worked their way out of the Bowl, exhausted.

“I feel like I’ve been in a football game, I’m so tired, ” said Yale sophomore Claire K. Mulvey, on one bus back from the Bowl to Old campus.

Yuval H. Grill ’03 summed up his Yale visit: “I came, I saw, I drank a shitload.”