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And the Tailgate Goes On

Vivi Melkonian/Villanovan Photography
Villanovans tailgated on Mendel Field despite the school canceling the tailgate.

Mimosas poured, “Villanova Mom” pins adorned and sandwich platters loaded in trunks. The marks of a tailgate-to-remember were strewn about Bryn Mawr on the morning of Saturday, Sept. 23. 


And then phones started buzzing. An email invaded the inboxes of tent-buyers reading in part, “Due to heavy rain and unexpected poor conditions on Mendel Field, we are not recommending guests join Tailgating on the Green, and canceling that program today. Unfortunately, we are unable to create a similar experience elsewhere on campus.”


Suddenly, dads and their travel-size grills Bryn Mawr-wide were stressfully rubbing their head as students frantically tried to determine a next move. House party? Roll Kelly’s early? Can we even get into White Dog on this short notice?


One line of the University’s cancellation announcement stood out among the rest, “We are not recommending.” 


The tailgate may have been officially canceled, but anyone who knows Villanova knows a little bit of rain and mud won’t inhibit a good time. These are the people who tailgate basketball games in sub-20 temperatures. 


As if on command, moms donned their Villanova-branded plastic ponchos, dads laced up their New Balances and made the pilgrimage towards Mendel Field. Aunts, uncles, cousins and siblings, too, were greeted by sludge and damp tables, but they nevertheless persisted. 


“We drove six hours in the pouring rain yesterday,” a Class of 2024 parent said. “We’re freaking tailgating.”


Families travel hundreds and thousands of miles every Family Weekend to spend a couple of short days with their kids. While there are a number of University-sponsored events for families, the football tailgate is undoubtedly the highlight of the weekend. Canceling the event irritated parents, who made substantial efforts to travel and plan the weekend. 


“We live in the South and spent over a thousand dollars on flights, hotels and food for this tailgate,” a Class of 2024 mom said. “To cancel the event, with such short notice, was really disappointing, but we made it work”


Regarding the short-notice decision to cancel the tailgate, the University explained it was a safety call above all else. 


“What this weekend reinforced is that we can plan for months, but we can’t control the weather,” Carita Geib, Director of Parent and Family Relations, said. “Thankfully, we work with a really great team that helped us plan and arrive at some critical decisions that took place this weekend. 


“We watched the weather, and the rain we weren’t worried about,” Geib continued. “What necessitated the decision was the condition of the field; we experienced unprecedented flooding hours before people came to campus. We didn’t feel that it was safe for us to say we were going to continue as planned for these people to come in.”


One thing about Villanovans, however, is they like to rally. There are few obstacles that will stand between the Villanova community and a chance for togetherness. Students and families gathered in Bartley classrooms, Commons apartments and one group even overtook the third floor of the Ithan parking garage. 


On Mendel Field, tailgaters, sporting rainboots and ponchos, huddled under their commandeered tents, and the festivities went on. 


“Despite rallying together and ultimately having a great day, my last parents weekend got off to a very rocky start,” said senior Regan McEnroe. 


Participants stayed on the field long after the originally scheduled 2:00 p.m. cutoff time. The last few tents wrapped up around 4:00 p.m. 


“We were hoping people would still find a way to gather, and it sounds like they did,” Geib said. 


Geib added that Tailgate on the Green refunds are available to people who purchased tents and email [email protected]. Refunds will be processed in the next couple of weeks, according to Geib. 


The perseverance and rally-on attitude of students and their families on Saturday is a testament to the Villanova spirit. Two of Villanova’s pillars, Unitas and Caritas (unity and love), were embodied by the community’s determination for togetherness and celebration this weekend. 


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Vivi Melkonian
Vivi Melkonian, Co-Editor-in-Chief
Vivi Melkonian is one of two Co-Editors-in-Chief of The Villanovan in 2022. A senior Communication major specializing in journalism and minoring in Political Science, Vivi was Co-Opinion Editor in 2021. Vivi never shied away from a controversial topic during her time as Opinion Editor, including articles on the Texas Abortion law, an on-campus sexual assault case, and former Villanova head coach Jay Wright's change in attire. Vivi has three dogs, including two dachshunds.
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