It is early Saturday morning, the sun is up, and the tailgating crowd is picking up the pace. Like bees in the hive and ants on the mound, movement is everywhere. Food and beverage deliveries crisscross the sidewalks and pathways. Some hang chandeliers under their tents, while others adjust satellite dishes. There is a humming in the air that is quiet but slowly growing in intensity. By noontime, there is a buzzing in the air that is contagious. It quickly spreads throughout the entire campus.
The Grove begins to pulsate with activity, and the volume grows. The sounds of friends greeting friends, reunions under the tents, music playing and football from televisions all fill the air while morning cocktails are having their effect.
Then comes order amongst the chaos. The Pride of the South Ole Miss Band enters the Grove in an orderly fashion and is greeted with applause from those fans that understand and appreciate the hard work that goes into their performances. Dressed in bright red jackets with silver shoulder tassels and resembling British military officers with instruments on parade, they are preparing for battle.
The band members cluster together in the Grove, helping one another prepare and adjust uniforms. They laugh together and they work together. They remind me of my days at summer camp. There is an air about the band members that is palpable. They have worked side by side for endless hours perfecting their art. They have bonded in a way that we cannot fully understand unless we have been there and done what they have. They are a true band of brothers and sisters.
Then, unexpectedly for most, a sound permeates the hallowed grounds and slowly builds. The band has now truly arrived. Parents with their children move towards the sound, and folks of all description turn and hail. Now we know it is time to get our game face on. The festivities have begun, and the Pride of the South kicks it off at the Grove. Get close enough to the band, and the hair on the back of your neck stands up. I rush in for a few photos only stopping here and there to yell “Hotty Toddy!” I am ready.