Fans flocked to Palmer Field Saturday sporting their team colors for the highly anticipated Tommie-Johnnie football game, but for some students, the celebration began earlier in the day.
That was made apparent when a St. John’s party bus pulled up to the St. Thomas arches, where Michael Barrett, associate director of Public Safety, met the students at the door.
“When they opened the doors, it was full of booze, and the back was full of vomit,” Barrett said.
Even though Barrett said he talked to a St. John’s representative who warned him there would be a non-sanctioned large party bus coming, he expected other party buses from the area.
He said six different companies sent party buses, like O’Gara’s, Tiffany’s, local private charters and two buses from St. John’s.
Once fans got into the game, they were able to enjoy the atmosphere and buy game day grub.
Former men’s hockey coach Terry Skrypek helped grill the brats and was happy to help a friend at the game.
“I’m helping out Dave Lepp,” Skrypek said. “I got to know him when I came on here in 1986, so he’s been a great friend.”
Along with Skrypek, St. Thomas ‘87 graduate Tom Proshek helped Lepp at the food tent and said some food was selling faster than others.
Lepp said the tent sold 500 brats, 600 hamburgers and around 1,200 of the 1,700 hot dogs ordered for the event.
Across from the food tent, St. Thomas ‘73 graduate and father of St. Thomas basketball player Tommy Hannon, Jim Hannon, watched the pre-game activities through the gate and admitted he came to the game to watch his son receive his championship ring at halftime.
“I run into a lot of people I know over the years, classmates and neighbors,” Hannon said. “It’s more like a family gathering than a football game.”
For Dak Sorenson, the rivalry catches him in between because he earned his four-year degree at St. John’s but his masters at St. Thomas.
“I’m always mixed up for who I cheer for, but I got a hometown boy that’s the quarterback for the Tommies, Dakota Tracy,” Sorenson said. “He is family to us, actually neighbors to us, so you know what, ‘Go Tommies.’”
In the crowd
Students were dressed for the game, and school spirit was high.
Junior Danika Seymour, who was escorting Tommie the mascot around the game, said love for Tommie was on both teams.
“It’s really nice seeing the Tommies cheering for us, but you also see St. John’s fans wanting to get pictures with Tommie too,” Seymour said.
Caruso’s Crew was also at the game and brought giant-sized tools with.
Senior Sean Grismer said the tools were important, maybe more than winning.
“Put on facial hair, put on suspenders, we’ve been spending all night preparing,” he said. “We brought the hammer. We brought the wrench, and well, winning is important too.”
Barrett said the event was heavily secured because of the game’s size.
There were nine St. Paul police officers, two mounted patrol on horseback, five St. John’s Life-Safety officers and more than 20 St. Thomas Public Safety officers, Barrett said.
Even with heavy security, there were still alcohol-related incidents.
Barrett said there was an incident where a female passed out in an Anderson Athletic and Recreation Center bathroom and vomited before the game.
“They’re drinking to sustain the rest of the game,” Barrett said. “And there will be big parties tonight.”
A record crowd of 10,420 people attended the game, and St. Thomas won 63-7.
Hannah Anderson can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.