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Cajuns fans paint the town red during homecoming celebrations – digital and video photo galleries

Dominick Cross, Daily Advertiser, Nov. 2, 2013

Athletic Network Footnote by Ed Dugas
Click here for digital photos of the Homecoming Parade – Hall of Fame Inductees, Sweethearts, Red Jackets.
Click here for the links to four videos – Homecoming Parade, Cajun Walk, Marching Band, and Crossfyre Playing at Tailgating.
Sweethearts and Red Jackets are captured in the Homecoming Parade video.

Sure, the wind could’ve been a little calmer, but with all that sunshine and the overall uplifting vibe for the University of Louisiana at Lafayette’s homecoming game, the occasional canaille gust was just a minor nuisance to tailgaters.

All over the Cajunfield parking lot Saturday afternoon, recreational vehicles were parked here and there. A pullout canopy kept the sun a bay and cooks turned BBQ wings in the shade.

In some cases, trailers with a complete grill or smoker were sometimes adjacent to the RV.

“This tailgating tent is for all of our employees and anybody who wants to come and enjoy the fellowship and food that we have to offer,” said Kevin Colligan, a manager at Super 1 Foods. It’s also an opportunity to do a little product promo.

“It’s also just an appreciation for our customers,” he said. “We’re part of the community. We’re here to stay. We’re heavily involved in all community activities.”

Other tailgaters huddled loosely under a UL logoed tent and a grill usually found its place among chairs and coolers and UL fans wearing UL red.

And others just hung out in the parking lot shooting the breeze, burger in one hand, beer in the other as they watched some friends in some friendly competition.

Like Spencer Rivet and Shelby Guerrero, who were deeply involved in a game of washers with another couple of friends.

The game of washers consists of a pair rectangular wooden boxe with holes in the top that are set so many feet apart . The objective is to toss a washer in one of the three holes. The game is set up for every home game, but there’s something different with homecoming.

“It’s way more intense,” said Rivet. “Everybody’s more passionate. Everybody’s out here to win. We want to win.”

It takes nerves of steel and lots of luck to win the game.

“A lot of people have different techniques,” Rivet said. “Some people flip the washer, some people throw it like a Frisbee. Well, I try at least,” he said. “I try.”

Guerrero said washers “is my game,” she said. “It’s the only one I’m good at. It’s the only one I stick to – don’t play anything where I’m going to lose – I like to win.”

Just up the parking lot, Jeramie Crochett tossed a sponge football with his son, Justin, who caught it more times than not.

“We’re just having fun before the game,” said Jeramie Crochett, who regularly attends UL home games with his son. “The enjoyment of coming to a home Cajun game and seeing all the camaraderie and all the festivities that go along with it.”

And there’s no doubt young Justin is catching on.

“They have good food over here,” said Justin Crochett, who is also a fan of the football. “They’re good football players.”

Away from the constant cacophony of music, laughter and people having crazy good times near the stadium, you’ll find Abby Aucoin and her family’s RV. Deer chili is in the air and a couple of kids ride about on their tiny plastic three wheelers.

But it’s still tailgating and its’ still for all those reasons:

“Just for the fun and festivities, support the UL Cajuns and be with family and friends,” said Aucoin. “I think you have more of a turnout for homecoming, but I think it’s all the same.”

Homecoming day started off with the Ragin’ Road Race.

At the Alumni House, Shannell Wyatt, Dillan Foucheaux, Kaelyn Wyatt and German exchange student Daniel Bergemann, of Hamburg, were waiting on former UL football player Harry Peoples, who with Foucheaux, were going to take on the 5K.

“And Daniel is going to watch us,” said Shannell Wyatt, adding that the reason is he has an upcoming track meet at Abbeville High School. “He’s going to have a meet, so he doesn’t want to overwork himself.”

The Wyatt female duet was set for the one mile run.

Not runners on a regular basis, the family does the Susan G. Komen and a Fourth of July Fun Run in Erath. It was first time for the Ragin’ Road Race.

“We’re not big time runners, we’re doing it to have fun. It’s homecoming, so it’s to have the spirit,” said Shannell Wyatt, a senior at UL, adding, “to give back. To be involved. To participate.”

Lewi Manirumva, a fifth-year senior at McNeese University and former member of its track team, took the men’s 5K division with a time of 15:20.

“It feels good. It was easy. It’s nice,” said Manirumva, who still trains with the team as a student assistant at McNeese. “I train with them and help them out and just work together.”

“I just try to stay consistent, finish fast, and feel good at the end,” he said. “5K is my favorite distance. I like it because I like going fast – it combines distance and speed – I enjoy going fast. It’s fun.”

Sara Ritchey, of Lafayette, prefers longer distances, but she still nabbed the top spot in the 5K for women with a time of 21:40; “it wasn’t my best,” she said.

“I’m more of a half-marathon (13.1 miles) person,” said Ritchey, who used the Ragin’ Road Race and an upcoming half-marathon in December to train for the Zydeco Marathon in March. “5K is just a sprint. It’s fun, but it’s exhausting.”

Ritchey is a life-long runner and has always preferred going long way around.

“Longer distances, you can kind of take your time. I find it more enjoyable,” she said.

“You can just wake up in the morning and go. You don’t have to wait on anybody, you don’t have to have special gear, you don’t have to wait on a team to assemble, or gather a ball,” said Ritchey. “You just wake up and go.”

But there’s also another draw.

“I enjoy the solitary. I work. I have a family,” she said. “Running is a time to just have for myself.

“And I’m fast and I’m good and I love it,” she said with a laugh.

UL committee member Vicki Moore Slason was a cheerleader at UL in 1973, and for homecoming Saturday she was decked out in a makeshift cheerleader outfit, a bright red wig and a lot of enthusiasm.

“This is my first time to dress up like this,” said Slason. “Last year I ran the 5K, but I just ran the one-mile today.”

Slason, who has four siblings and three children who are UL alumni, got involved with the association for basic reasons.

“This is a great institution and we want to promote education,” she said.

Early this morning Sarah Cannon and crew had the bar relatively stocked and waited for race’s end.

"I don’t know why they do it," Cannon said as Bloody Mary’s and Mimosas awaited the runners. "I started four years ago, but they’ve just always done it.”

Runners enjoyed beans and rice, or mimosas, or fruit, or beer after Ragin’ Road Race under superb conditions .

And they also enjoyed some "Cornbread" by the late Beau Jocque.