On Oct. 15, the UH Rainbow Warriors football team hosted the UNLV Runnin’ Rebels at Aloha Stadium. It wasn’t an ordinary game, however, as it was the biggest game of the season for students: homecoming.
More than 30,000 people attended the game, and the majority of them were students who were also tailgating outside the stadium before kickoff. Tents were set up all across the parking lots as students and fans partied with friends and families while sitting around barbeque grills or playing catch.
A typical tent involved people cooking chicken, sausage and ribs over a grill with the smoke floating around the area and with a big UH flag or tent raised above them.
Aside from grilling their favorite foods, families and friends were seen playing fun, competitive games such as bean bag toss, a game where the object is to toss a bean bag onto a board located about 15 feet in front of the player. If the bag bounces off the board and falls to the ground, the player doesn’t score. But if it stays on the board, players earn one point, and if the bag falls into the hole on the board, they earn three points. People were also playing catch, cards or other games like beer pong.
“It’s like one big party,” said Rob Gabriel, a student at UH Mānoa. “We can enjoy games with our friends or go to another tent and party with other people. It’s a really chill environment.”
At the Oct. 1 football game, there were multiple calls to authorities about students passed out in the parking lot and possibilities of underage drinking. So Aloha Stadium security brought in more workers and police officers to oversee the festivities for homecoming. They closed down a student section and moved it into the stadium so students would find their way to the game more easily.
Stadium officials released a statement to KHON2 earlier in the week saying they wanted students to have a good time and to be safe while doing so. UH launched a promotional campaign through email and social media warning students about the dangers of binge and underage drinking.
Regardless, there were many patrons who wanted to tailgate outside until the game started. Many students flocked to one tent located in the parking lot that belonged to one of Mānoa’s fraternities, Kappa Sigma, which had food, drinks and even a live DJ. One of the more raucous tents with its loud music, the tailgaters were told to quiet down multiple times by stadium security and police.
“That tent was cool. Everyone was having fun, especially with the loud music,” Gabriel said. “Homecoming was an experience because I never tailgated before, but I can see why so many people love to do it … It’s a time where we can forget about all the stress we had during the week from studying and just have fun.”
Lucas Leaman, another student at Mānoa and someone who keeps up with the school’s football team, described tailgating at Aloha Stadium as different compared to his last school. “When I went to my other school in Virginia, it was a little more chill. We’d just sit around and grill our food … Over here, all my classmates party hard.” He said he couldn’t wait to tailgate at the next homecoming game.
The Rainbow Warriors lost the game, 41-38, because of a late field goal that sealed the win for the Runnin’ Rebels. The Warriors’ record fell to 3-4 but hope still looms for them to make their first Hawai‘i Bowl game this Christmas Eve, which would be the Warriors’ first appearance in almost six years.
by Joshua Farias, Ka ‘Ohana Staff Reporter