Campers’ ‘mad dash’ spawns tent city

Fans wait by their chairs before Big Blue Madness ticket distribution near Memorial Coliseum in Lexington, Ky., on Tuesday, September 18, 2012. Photo by Matt Burns | Staff

By Lindsay Travis

Campers were ready to go Wednesday as they waited for the signal allowing them to race across the street and set up their tents.

Some were stretching and going over their game plans one last time before the race. Once the clock struck 7 a.m., it was a mad dash to the lawns in front of Memorial Coliseum.

Elizabeth Miller, who set up her tent in the second section on the right lawns, said the morning was “called madness for a reason.”

“It was worse than Black Friday,” Tammy King, a first-time camper, said.

There were arguments among campers over who reached a certain spot first.

“Two different people had to move their tents and go away. There was a lot of chaos, but we tried to work together to make some arrangements for people to not lose a spot and still be able to come and get their tickets,” Miller said.

EMTs were asked to be in attendance to this year’s campout.

“I know why they shut down the street – because it’s a mad dash,” said Mark Harvey, director of EMS at UK for athletic events. “You’ve got people diving underneath and over the chains that are up. It’s pretty interesting. It’s like organized chaos.”

“I was more impressed with some of their techniques than I was scared for them,” Chris McFarlan, an EMT with UK Athletics, said.

Even though the process is hectic, fans still think it’s worth it.

“The player involvement through the week, the event itself is incredible and then Coach Cal usually comes around to see people. Just to get to know the players a little bit makes you feel like this is really your team. It makes you feel an even bigger connection. You just really get to love the guys as people,” said Elizabeth Miller who is on her 16th Big Blue Madness, while her son is on his 14th. “He’s been here since he was three months old and has never missed.”

First-timer, Kayla Denny, an equine major at UK, is very happy with how the rush turned out for her and is very excited for Big Blue Madness.

“I’m hyped up already and it’s not even ’till October. I’m excited,” she said.

Amanda Cartmel, from Ashland, left around 4 am to get in the line. Between a game of corn-hole, she commented on why she loves Big Blue Madness.

“I think just being around people that are as crazy about Kentucky basketball as I am. ‘Cause you know sometimes you get around people and they don’t understand it. It’s always really neat. I don’t know anywhere else that they do this. Only here. Only in Kentucky would they do something like this.”

Campers will be all around Memorial Coliseum waiting until Saturday at 7 a.m. for their tickets to Big Blue Madness.

I am all for people having fun, enjoying our campus and city plus the excitement of Big Blue Madness. But for the life of me I can’t understand the disrespect which I saw at 7:50 am Wednesday morning. I was shocked to see all the trash and cigarette butts littering the sidewalk, green space and street after the mad dash as I saw there were/are trash receptacles and recycling bins available. Pity.

The “awesomeness” of the grounds workers (and maybe the custodial staff?) had the mess cleaned up fairly quickly and they should be thanked, so THANK YOU!