After an incredible day at Texas A&M, all I’ve got to say is “GIG ‘EM.”
I joined the folks at Experience Bryan College Station to spend the day like a true Aggie. We did it ALL. And I loved every second of it.
Unlike my Longhorn boss, I was not tripping on “enemy territory” (you can find Chet’s Aggie adventure here). My dad is an Aggie, which means I’ve got the maroon and white in my blood. Even so, it was my first time to really get a glimpse into the longstanding traditions of this town, and now I’m hooked (or should I say “gig’ed?”)
To start off the weekend, we joined the large crowd of maroon-and-white-clad students piling into Mad Taco, the tiny joint across the street from the university for tacos and pickle fries, which are exactly what you think they are — but ten times better tasting! My Braised Pork and Jerk Chicken tacos put your typical Tex-Mex to shame, which is not something I say lightly.
Next we were on to Downtown Bryan for “First Friday,” a free event each month when all the businesses and eateries stay open late, and downtown becomes flooded with live music, street performers and magicians!
I felt a deep connection with this street art.
We stopped by The Chocolate Gallery for handmade sweets and there were a ton of choices, many of them Aggie-themed. But when life hands you a tiny chocolate teacup filled with pumpkin spice and whipped cream — you eat that thing and fast!
We wandered through the streets as live music wafted out from art galleries and restaurants, until we ended up at Downtown Uncorked Winebar, where we indulged in a glass of wine and some chocolate fondue: two of my favorite things!
Finally it was time for one of the most iconic Aggie traditions of all — Midnight Yell at Kyle Field.
One of my favorite parts of the weekend was getting to be down on the field where we had a killer view of all the action.
Before going to Midnight Yell, I had no idea what to expect…and honestly coming out of it, I’m still not sure what happened. But I do know that it was awesome!
This gathering of the Aggies the night before a game has been a tradition for over 85 years, and it’s a sort of midnight pep-rally lead by four “Yell Leaders” who engage the crowd in various chants and songs. It’s something that’s way easier to experience than explain. Basically there’s a whole lot of swaying, singing, hollering and — of course — “Whooping.” Oh, and heads up to all you Longhorns out there…there are many anti-UT battle cries and anthems — regardless of who they’re actually playing against the next day (when I was there, the opposing team was Alabama…)
At one point, all the lights in the stadium dimmed for a secret A&M tradition called “Mugging Down,” that I won’t spoil for you. You’ll just have to find an Aggie to explain it…but if they think you’re cute, they might just show you instead 😉
Soon enough, we’d chanted all we could chant, The Corps had done at least 100 push-ups — possibly an exaggeration, but they made it look so easy — and everyone was riled up and ready for a win. Piling out of the stadium, we found ourselves face to face with the Texas-sized A&M ring, which contains a time capsule from 1946 that won’t be opened until 2046!
It was the perfect cap to an Aggie-filled day.
Though my day in Bryan/College Station was complete, I’d only begun to crack the surface of the longstanding traditions in this town. I’d dined with the best, uncovered my inner-Aggie-fangirl and even found a new passion for army-chic decor (here’s looking at you, Calvary Court Hotel), but even so, I know there’s so much more to discover. I’ll definitely be rocking my maroon and white jersey again for another Aggie-fied adventure soon!