Opening fever


POSTED: Saturday, September 05, 2009

Eddie Lau hoisted the green University of Hawaii flag again this year.

It fluttered at the top of a plastic flagpole connected to a wooden plank, held down by the rear tire of Lau's green 2002 Ford Focus, a color he chose for its resemblance to the UH Warriors.

Parked at Aloha Stadium, Lau said he had to bribe a co-worker to take his shift last night so he could attend the opening game of the UH Warriors football season.

“;We just couldn't wait since last year,”; said Lau, of Pearl City, who works in the entertainment industry in Waikiki. “;It's finally here.”;

Friends and family hoisted drinks and ate grilled meats before the game yesterday, enjoying the camaraderie of old and new friends and the thrill of collegiate football.

;[Preview]  UH football fans prepare for kickoff

Before the University of Hawaii football team kicked off its new season against Central Arkansas, a party was already underway.

Watch ]


Lau's flag is now a beacon summoning friends to the parking area between rows 11 and 13 for a reunion of people who don't see each other except at this time of the year.

“;It's a chance to do something I haven't done for a year,”; said friend Karl Samples, of Manoa, who hadn't seen Lau since last season. “;It's a nice start.”;

Tailgating fans weren't deterred by the fact that the game was on a Friday, some staying connected to the job by phone or taking kids out of school early to be there. Young revelers did beer bongs — funnels and hoses used to gulp down drinks — until security broke up the crowd.

Kalani Mills felt lucky just to be at the game with his wife and two sons. As an Army lieutenant colonel, he anticipated his tour would be extended to the end of the year, but he returned last month.

“;It's not 120 degrees; there's no dust storms; the rain's great,”; he said. “;It's a family event. The kids really enjoy it.”;

Amy Kelly, a “;die-hard football fan,”; requested a vacation day to ensure she had the day off for the game.

“;It's a little naked,”; she said of the parking lot earlier in the afternoon. “;Probably because it's Friday.”;

“;I've been counting the days,”; said Keoni Maiwela, who brought his 1-year-old son, Jaydon, to his first Warriors football game.

He said the team was gaining support because of UH coach Greg McMackin.

“;The coach is really family-oriented,”; he said.

Regular tailgater Lenny Wright made it to his regular spot along the walkway to the stadium.

“;The anxiety is killing me,”; he said. “;Every day, all you're thinking about is that first game.”;