SOUTHINGTON - More than a dozen people filled the Chick-fil-A parking lot Wednesday, as they attempted to camp out for 24 hours in hopes of winning a year’s worth of chicken.
Yellow caution tape surrounded the people and their tents, as they hope to be one of the first 100 customers. They set up their chairs, chatted, watched movies and played games that the restaurant management held every hour. Participants were fortunate to enjoy a relatively warm 37-degree, winter day and they were also given breakfast, lunch, dinner and chocolate cookies before going to sleep.
John and Amanda Thompson, Nick Rapoli, Matteo Gaudia and Nick Gilbert comprised one group of campers, who sat in lawn chairs outside their tents bundled up in winter coats.
“I’m just doing this because I just really like chicken,” said John Thompson.
“I go to college in Pennsylvania and I always stock up on Chick-fil-A,” said Amanda Thompson.
Another group included Bill Manka, Bill Grossberndt, James Hoder and Brett Daigle, a student at Central Connecticut State University.
“I’m on break from college so I’ve got the free time,” said Daigle. “Free food is always good.”
Another group included Nicholas Davies, who said he regularly visited the Chick-fil-A in Wallingford, and Stevie Centurelli, who said that she was camping out mostly for the experience.
“I am the president of Project Graduation at Plainville High School and I was here two days ago for a Zumba fundraiser,” said Centurelli. “I saw that this was going on and I decided I would give it a try.”
Cindy Chapman, spokesperson for Chick-fil-A, said that winners would receive a card which they could use for 52 free “Number One” chicken sandwich meals over the course of a year, once a week.
“Chick-fil-A did the first one of these events with an opening 14 years ago and were shocked by the size of the crowd it attracted, so we’ve kept doing it,” said Chapman. “We have games and prizes to try to make it a little more fun for people than when you’d wait outside of a store on Black Friday to get the latest phone.”
Mike Hartman, owner and operator of the Southington Chick-fil-A, said that the 24 hours leading up to the restaurant’s opening were an “exciting time” and that he was happy with the turnout.
Taylor Crofton, executive director of the Southington Chamber of Commerce, said that Chick-fil-A joined as an executive member.
“The chamber is elated to welcome this business into our community,” she said. “They have a unique business model highly focused on an outstanding customer service experience to everyone who visits their store.”
Brian M. Johnson can be reached at 860-973-1806 or email@example.com.