For those of us perpetually faced with the prospect of an almost-champion-but not-quite team, ritual trumps score. Pregame hope needs a spiked lubricant. Postgame hurt requires a whiskey soaked balm. It means The Grove, the ne plus ultra of tailgating tradition. So ingrained is this Saturday-afternoon custom that I still root for the Rebels, shouting “Hotty Toddy!” from the couch in our Brooklyn apartment or flying home to Oxford , Mississippi, to revel every couple of years. I don’t really care so much about football. What I care deeply about—being someone who enjoys good food, copious drink, and any opportunity to watch humankind peacock— is the Mississippi experience.
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Unlike at other schools, especially my comparatively slovenly alma mater in the Rockies, game day in Oxford is a runway event: tweeds from Neilson’s and dresses from Cicada or other local fashion-forward boutiques.
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As The Grove has become nationally known, game day at Ole Miss has transcended from mere social gathering to outright spectacle. And what good is a spectacle unobserved? “Hell Yeah! Damn Right!” Stay for the game, but come for the party.