The annual Bayou Classic is a weekend of tradition, fun and football cherished by fans of Grambling State and Southern University. What started out four decades ago as a simple football game between two historically black universities has evolved into one of New Orleans biggest and most-anticipated sporting events.
Every Thanksgiving weekend, fans of both teams descend on the city, turning the French Quarter and downtown areas into seas of black and gold (Grambling) and blue and gold (Southern). In a lead up to the big game – the Bayou Clash – fans are treated to a parade, a fan festival, empowerment and career seminars and a Battle of the Bands. Then on Saturday after Thanksgiving, it all culminates at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome when the Tigers and the Jaguars go paw to paw.
The rivalry between the two schools dates back to the 1930s when the two teams began playing each other yearly. Things got more intense when the series was named the Bayou Classic in 1974 and moved permanently to New Orleans. Over the years, both teams have produced an astounding number of players who went on to the NFL and other professional football leagues, some of whom are enshrined in the Pro Football Hall of Fame such as Willie Davis who played for the Green Bay Packers and Charlie Joiner of the San Diego Chargers.
Longtime beloved Grambling head coach, the late Eddie Robinson, who led his team to the first five Bayou Classic triumphs, is the winningest coach in NCAA Division I football history with 408 victories.
On Thanksgiving Day, the Grambling Marching Tigers and the Southern Human Jukebox lead the annual Bayou Classic Thanksgiving Day Parade from the Superdome to the French Market. The parade showcases floats, marching bands, military units, alumni groups, motorized units and elements of the Zulu Social Aid and Pleasure Club, New Orleans’ oldest predominantly African-American Mardi Gras parading organization.
Then on Friday, the bands compete in the annual Battle of the Bands – an event almost as exciting as the game itself because of the prestige and popularity of these schools’ two bands and their fabulously choreographed moves. Saturday before the game is Fan Fest at Champions Square next to the Superdome. There is entertainment, food and drinks for sale and musical performances.
For those without tickets, the Bayou Classic will be on TV in just about every bar and restaurant in New Orleans, with many having viewing parties with food and drink specials for the game.
Several hotels, including the Hyatt Regency adjacent to the Superdome, offer special discount rates to Bayou Classic attendees. You can view a list of these hotels and their rates as well all kinds of weekend details at www.mybayouclassic.com.
With a stunning spot on the New Orleans skyline and a special place in the city’s history, the Mercedes-Benz Superdome is the home of iconic events. The facility’s amenities and technology infrastructure make it one...