Cars driving past the new Chick-fil-A location in had a sight to see Wednesday.
Brightly colored tents and canopies filled the parking lot near the new restaurant as the "First 100" and their alternates passed the time at card tables or milled around on the blacktop.
, so far.
Some came from Indiana, Ohio or from just down the block. For many it was a repeat Chick-fil-A campout experience. It was the tenth opening for Naperville couple Heide and Denis Rewerts.
Several cars on their way to Meijer slowed down to ask the campers just what they were doing.
Camping outside of Chick-fil-A, for the tenth time
For Naperville couple Heide and Denis Rewerts, the Bolingbrook opening is their tenth Chick-fil-A camp-out. They've attended nine other openings in the Chicago area, and one in Merrillville, IN. Each sports a Chick-fil-A "fan" button.
Denis Rewerts is an alternate this time. Heide Rewerts just made the cut, picked as #99.
"We enjoy the whole atmosphere," Rewerts said. "We love the product. We love the company."
The Rewerts make sure they have their tent, canopy and bedding with them for these events. Those materials stay packed away in their garage in between Chick-fil-A openings. Snacks, their TV and stereo are also important.
Joining the Rewerts were 14-year-old Emma Peterson and 20-year-old Kaitlin Dove. Peterson was a guest. Dove was lucky #100. Both were with a group of home-schooled students from Glen Ellyn. It was the fourth Chick-fil-A opening for Peterson; the second for Dove. Peterson said it wasn't hard for her family of 12 to finish all 52 meal coupons in a year.
First, the campers had to arrive by 6 a.m. Wednesday for a chance to be one of the "First 100." About 130 people were in the parking lot by 6 a.m., according to Brenda Morrow, spokesperson for Chick-fil-A. When there are more than 100 people present, Chick-fil-A chooses the "First 100" by lottery.
Those who are not chosen as the "First 100" are alternates. Everyone receives a wristband with his or her number on it.
Then, the camping out begins. The "First 100" must stay at the restaurant location until 6 a.m. Thursday, when they will receive gift certificates for 52 combination meals. Those participating are allowed to have up to five guests.
Wednesday morning's stormy weather did not interfere with the First 100 lottery, which was conducted inside. The group then headed back outside the Chick-fil-A until 6 a.m. Thursday. At that time, campers line up behind Chick-fil-A's mascots, the cows, to receive their gift certificates.
There will be a buglar. Local Boy and Girl Scouts will be present for the raising of the flag. The Chick-fil-A will officially open immediately afterward.
Until then, campers are enjoying an "upscale version of a tailgate," Morrow said. Lunch and dinner are provided. There's a DJ playing music from 6 to 8 p.m. and an ice cream social afterward. Other activities include popsicles and a milkshake scavenger hunt.
And, every so often, the Chick-fil-A will do a "line check," asking the First 100 to line up numerically. If someone does not stay for the full 24 hours, one of the alternates will take his or her place.