The scene seemed to validate the fears of Athens-Clarke County Commissioner Melissa Link, who told the Athens Banner-Herald this week she was concerned that UGA’s tailgating ban would drive revelers downtown. But the city and county have been limited in what they can do to quell crowds. Athens actually was one of the first cities in Georgia to mandate sheltering in place and shut down bars and restaurants back in March. But Gov. Brian Kemp’s orders superseded those local ordinances, and the city and downtown businesses reopened and eventually negotiated midnight curfews.
North and South Campus were decidedly serene in comparison. There were some significant tailgate spreads scattered about, and it appeared that several groups ignored the tent ban, including one that was erected right next to the Student Learning Center near the middle of campus. But the did not seem to be encountering any resistance from UGA police or officials.
The most intense tailgating appeared to be taking place in backyards well outside the town-and-gown boundaries of Athens and the UGA campus. David and Betsy Lilliston of Watkinsville welcomed most of the members of their group known as the “Take No Prisoners Tailgate” to the backyard of their home in the Lake Welbrook subdivision. They normally set up at 7 a.m. each home-game Saturday on Field Street, right behind the southeast corner of Sanford Stadium. Accordingly, Lilliston said his backyard tailgate opened at the same time.
“We’re a very dedicated group,” Lilliston deadpanned.
UGA alums and longtime Hartman Fund contributors, Lilliston said they all “opted out” of their season tickets this year and will take turns hosting the tailgate at their respective homes. But they were welcoming to all comers, including two Auburn friends.
Across town on the other side of Athens, Joey Tucker had a group of friends over to watch the game on a projector screen in the backyard of his Homewood Hills house.
“Even though we aren’t on campus, it was great just getting together,” Tucker said.