In tough economic times, choices sometimes have to be made. The most die-hard, Scarlet-and-Gray-bleeding Ohio State Buckeyes football fan might not be able to afford a ticket for the game. That doesn’t mean you can’t be in the middle of the action and tradition on Lane Avenue in Columbus, Ohio, close to the Horseshoe on football Saturday.
During the 2002 Ohio State National Championship Season, I was fortunate enough to work as a bartender at Holiday Inn on Lane for Hineygate (Rest in Peace!). While the crowds aren’t as large these days as in the years of four huge Buckeyes rallies side by side on Lane Avenue, there is still a touch of tradition to be found, even without a ticket to the game.
Celebrate the Buckeyes Before, During and After the Game at the Varsity Club
The Varsity Club at 278 West Lane Avenue is one of the last bastions of Lane Avenue game-day party traditions. Open early on game day, “The VC” serves cold beer and great subs and pizza! Local sister stations QFM-96 and 95.5 The Hawk host the Varsity Club Crank-Up Party in the back lot with a big screen to watch the game and local favorite Shuckin’ Bubba providing live music before and after the game. There’s also an opportunity at every Varsity Club Crank-Up Party to win tickets to the game – you might just get inside the ‘Shoe, yet!
Ric Knight, morning host on The Hawk, described the tradition at the Varsity Club to me: “Nothing better than standing in an inch of spilled beer outside drinking out of your shoe!”
Oh, and Archie – if you’re out there? I finally gave up those 2002 Beat Michigan Varsity Club football beads to a tree in New Orleans. I realized the karma was gone – I need a new set!
Skull Session – You Don’t Have to Miss The Best Damn Band in the Land!
Even without a game ticket, fans of the Ohio State Marching Band can still get cranked up with the pre-game show at the Skull Session!
Skull Session is a free pre-game warm-up pep rally for TBDBITL held in St. John Arena starting two hours before every home game (the doors open four hours before game time). If you get there at starting time, be prepared to climb the stairs – all the stairs!
The Ohio State University Marching Band will play through their pre-game show, including Buckeye Battle Cry, Across the Field, Hang on Sloopy and of course, Le Regiment – the song played during Script Ohio. You will also see which fortunate sousaphone player was selected to dot the “I” – a cherished honor for only a very few. My high school band director at Centerburg High School, Lee Ensminger, was one of those chosen few in the mid-1970s.
I defy any true Ohio State Buckeye fan to not be moved to cheers and their feet as The Best Damn Band in the Land slowly plays Across the Field as the crowd claps along, and then brings it up to speed after the break.
Tailgate Parties on Lane Avenue
During the walk to and from St. John Arena for the Skull Session, take a few minutes to talk with the tailgaters. According to this article in Columbus Monthly, Ohio State tailgaters are proud of their vehicles, their decorating and their food! Complementing the setup may earn you an invitation to join them in the festivities!
Fans of the Ohio State Buckeyes can still find many traditions near the Horseshoe on Lane Avenue, even without a game ticket!
Sources: QFM-96 ; The Varsity Club ; 95.5 The Hawk ; TBDBITL ; Columbus Monthly