Jan 26th 2010 By Shelly Rene
Some hints that you're in Alabama: if the sweet smell of fried chicken seeps into your air vents; if you run into college football fans who swear on their grandpa's grave out back that "The Bear" is still alive and finally; but most especially if you stroll into the local Wal-Mart and see the Crimson Tide's 2010 Bowl Championship Series National Championship Trophy on display.
That's right -- the $30,000, 45-lb. Waterford Crystal Trophy was displayed at the Tuscaloosa Wal-Mart on Saturday, Jan. 9, and at the Gardendale Wal-Mart the following day on a humble stand surrounded by an ocean of crimson and white (and, of course, Dr. Pepper products).
With around 9,000 eager souls on Saturday and near that number showing up Sunday, Wal-Mart employees had to enforce crowd control by cutting the line off before noon. The decision to display the trophy publicly was part of a sponsorship deal with Dr. Pepper, the presenting sponsor of the 2010 BCS Trophy.
With a big smile, Gardendale Wal-Mart General Manager Derek Freeman told us, "The initial reaction from the city and students was just happiness. Everyone was happy that there would be a venue to display the trophy that was large enough to house a big crowd. This is a rare opportunity that we at Wal-Mart couldn't be happier to be a part of. Roll, Tide!"
So, what did 'Bama fans have to say?
"It is just like taking a picture by the Statue of Liberty, or the Eiffel Tower," said University of Alabama student and avid football fan Jay Prater. "That trophy means everything to us. Taking a picture with it means something special -- it's something we want to share with our kids one day. Doesn't matter where the trophy is, we would have driven halfway up the Mississippi to get a glimpse of that beauty."
Junior Ethan Hiatt wondered why such a fuss was made about the decision to display the trophy at Wal-Mart: "People act like they have never been, or that they're too good for Wal-Mart. Well, we aren't. We're 'Bama fans and we're Wal-Mart fans. People can get over it. I'd like to meet a person that's never been to Wal-Mart."