My Kind of Classic
Imagine an abstract painting with orange and green brush strokes clashing with maroon and gold ones. This is what the city of Orlando will look like this weekend for the 39th Florida Blue Florida Classic. This historic matchup between the Florida A&M University (FAMU) Rattlers and the Bethune-Cookman University (BCU) Wildcats draws alumni and supporters from both schools from all over the country.
More Than a Weekend
Expect some Classic-goers to start arriving in Orlando on Thursday. Some, like Michael Monroe who travels from Tallahassee, will make their way to the stadium to secure prime tailgating positioning. This has been an annual ritual for Michael for the past 15 years. “My RV is usually one of about 40 that show up on Thursday to help kick off the Classic. It’s like a FAMU-Bethune block party that grows and grows as more people come into town.”
Friday’s events top off with the Battle of the Bands between BCU’s Marching Wildcats and FAMU’s Marching 100. Both bands go head to head to wow with their distinctive sounds and dazzling moves in hopes of being selected as the crowd favorite. Family-friendly and entertaining, the competition provides great exposure for both schools and presents a rare, intimate glimpse for kids aspiring to be future marching band members.
Saturday is an atmospheric mix of family reunions, multi-cuisine cookouts, and outdoor house parties all coexisting harmoniously in the same vicinity. Many game attendees arrive early to participate in Fanfare event with their kids, mingle with friends (and strangers who become friends), eat good food, engage in tailgating and purchase merchandise that can be hard to come by after the Classic. When it’s game time, you’ll find it difficult to spot an empty seat until after halftime. For many spectators, the halftime show is the main attraction and the game’s true winner is the band that puts on the most crowd-pleasing performance. Then, expect a mad dash to the concession area, which will be the only break many will take from the game. Post-game, it’s common to see many hang around for hours to celebrate, regardless of who won. There are still many people to see and price haggling to do with vendors trying to empty their inventories.
More than a Sponsorship
Tony Jenkins, Central Florida Market President, for Florida Blue says the sponsorship allows Florida Blue to increase its brand visibility to diverse and younger demographics. “The added bonus is that we’re reaching people beyond Orlando and from other demographic segments. We get national exposure from the game being televised nationally on the ESPN network. Plus, people from all over come to participate in Florida Classic activities and other events in the city. This adds millions of dollars to the local economy. It’s a perfect fit for Florida Blue, both schools and the community. ” And which team does Tony root for? “Since Bethune-Cookman is located in my market, I root for the Wildcats,” he admitted.
If you’re attending the Classic this weekend, we want to see your photos on social media. Simply tag them with #MyKindofClassic. To learn more about all of the Florida Blue Florida Classic events happening this weekend and to purchase tickets, visit www.floridaclassic.org.
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After a 20-year hiatus, Latondra recently relocated back to the Sunshine State and now works as an internal communications consultant at Florida Blue. As a true communications explorer, she enjoys helping people and organizations say the right things to the right people at the right time. She has a BS in Journalism from Florida A&M University and a MS in Communications from Purdue University. You can follow her on Twitter at @ Steele_I_Rise, especially if you’re a guinea pig owner!