Main | Saturday, October 15, 2005

Minneapolis, Day 4

It's 10:36am and I've just had 3 beers.

The streets of Minneapolis are awash in a sea of red shirts, as today is the football portion of "Border Battle", the year long sports competition between the Minnesota Gophers and the Wisconsin Badgers.

This morning I was awakened by the sound of a marching band, its horns and drums spiraling up the glass and steel canyons of downtown, up to my 29th floor hotel room. From my window I could see a huge throng of football fans enjoying what has to be the earliest pre-game drinking party I've ever witnessed. I pulled on a sweater and went downstairs to find the lobby was jammed with Wisconsinites who are apparently overflowing every downtown hotel.

Just a couple of blocks away, outside the Metrodome, the street party is in full swing. Hot college boys are slamming kegs of Budweiser and swing dancing with old ladies wearing hats festooned with supporter pins. There's a table with the largest piece of cheese I've ever seen. The sky is clear, the temperature is low. The air is bristling with anticipation and cheering and the talk of football and man is this Americana or what?

I walked up to the block party, intending to snap a few pictures, and before I reached the barricades I heard, " Hey, buddy! You need a beer?" And with that, a large draft beer was shoved between the rails and into my hands. I said, "Oh, I'm not a Badger, I'm just in town from New York." The guy laughed and said, "Anybody who's not from Minnesota is a Badger TODAY!"

And thus I was helped over the fence and into the party.

Midwestern charm and friendliness is not a myth, my friends. On the other side of the barricade I even found some local Minnesota boys wearing their school colors. Can you imagine a bunch of Red Sox fans invading a Yankees party? How long would they live?

This town has completely bowled me over with its grace.

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