Cara Wasson and Trisha Metzger shared a table and some laughs at a pub just off the Purdue campus Saturday night. Indianapolis was an hour to the south, Chicago was 2 1/2 hours to the north, and Pasadena was at their fingertips.
Wasson flipped open her cellular phone and dialed her friend, Sharon Clark, a former classmate at Purdue who shelled out roughly $2,000 to see the Boilermakers in the Rose Bowl.
“She called us from Los Angeles yesterday,” said Wasson, 23. “She was on the beach. I was pretty jealous.”
That’s understandable. Even though Purdue is making its first Rose Bowl trip since 1967, and just about everyone in town is wearing black and gold, things are pretty slow in these parts this week.
There’s a foot of snow on the ground, the nighttime temperatures dip into the single digits, and, because most students are still on Christmas break, campus is quiet as a ghost town.
“This is a very conservative town,” said longtime resident Paul Brown, 46, who felt perfectly at ease negotiating the slippery streets in his taxicab. “We consider ourselves the backbone of the nation. I know that sounds conceited, but without farmers, no one would have any food on the table. Plus, if you can stand the cold, it’s a good place to live and raise a family.”
It’s also a good place to live if you’re Drew Brees, Purdue’s star quarterback. After all, how many college kids get a street named after them? A new housing development near campus recently christened one of its streets “Brees Way.” The marquee outside the Ramada Hotel reads: “Brees into Damon’s for the Rose Bowl! Six big screen TVs!”
Back in the Purdue pub--curiously named Harry’s Chocolate Shop--Tim Gick wistfully talked about how he almost made the trip but it was just too expensive. Besides, he came to California once and left with an enduring memory.
“I got a $120 jaywalking ticket crossing Hollywood Boulevard,” he said.
Hundreds of fans willing to spend big bucks crowded into the tiny Purdue University Airport Friday and Saturday, waiting for turbo-prop planes bound for Chicago or Detroit. From there, it was off to Southern California.
A local travel agency was selling an $1,800 Rose Bowl getaway that featured a plane ticket, lodging for four nights, tickets to the parade and football game. Fans who popped for that package also got a canvas goodie bag loaded with homemade trivia games such as “Who Wants to Be a Californian?” and “Who Wants to Be a Boilermaker?”
Oh, yes, and “Drew Brees Bingo.”