After one failed attempt, and then a beautiful story of our redemptive God at work, Bret and I went to another Chick-fil-A grand opening yesterday morning. (If you don't know about their grand opening First 100 Promo event, you can read more about it in my post about the failed attempt.)
Bound and determined to not have a repeat of last time, we arrived in the parking lot at about 5:45 am. Now, the official rules state that the first 100 customers get the Grand Prize (the 52 free #1 combo coupons). But, the line cannot start more than 24 hours before the store opens. In the event that there are over 100 people at that point, a raffle is conducted. Everyone is given a number, and the first 100 numbers drawn are officially the first 100 customers -- regardless of who actually got there first.
So, we pulled up at 5:45, and were greeted by throngs of people running back and forth to their vehicles with sleeping bags and pillows and tents. It was mass chaos. Apparently, a couple of groups of people had gotten there as early as 5pm on Tuesday (the store doesn't open until 6am on Thursday). No one seemed to have read the rules, and they had started a list of their own, which they were saying you had to sign...people were scrambling to make a line...those of us who knew the rules were beginning to panic that the official rules would not be followed...you get the idea.
Finally, at about 5 minutes to 6am, the Chick-fil-A staff came out and lined us up. There was still a lot of confusion and some tempers, but long story short -- the official count at 6am was 120 people. So, even though we were among the first 100 people there, we were each assigned numbers and were entered into a raffle for a chance to be in the official first 100. Then they would continue to draw numbers until everyone there had been given an official place in line.
Bret was #57 drawn...I was number #110. Bret was guaranteed a Grand Prize (assuming he stayed for the entire 24 hours, and didn't break any rules), and I was invited to stay just in case enough people dropped out that I was able to move up at least ten places in line. And, I would be entered in a drawing for a few extra prizes at the end. So that's what I did. Even though I was pretty sure that there was no way that many people would drop out even if it rained, and even though it was taking quite a bit of work to not be discouraged by the fact that it wasn't working out like we had hoped when half the reason we were doing this was to donate half of the coupons to a food pantry. Besides, Bret and I were in the same vehicle, and I was stuck there anyway!
So we set up our canopy, unpacked our stuff, and began the 24 hour stent in the parking lot. We were not allowed to go back to our vehicles, and we were only allowed to go into the store to use the restroom. Here's how our day went:
5:45am - We arrived
6:00am - In the official line, we are number 95 and 96. The raffle begins.
7:04am - Bret's number is drawn. He's #57! (Yes, apparently it takes a very long time to organize a raffle...)
7:20am - I'm #110. So we wait in another line to get officially signed in, and then go set up our stuff. (Ours is the big blue canopy.)
9:00am - Our first official line check. (There are several of these throughout the day, just to make sure that everyone is still there and no one has tried to sneak out...)
10:00am - Free chicken biscuits!11:15am - Bret catches a quick little nap.
12:30pm - Line check and free chicken sandwiches.
1:15pm - Thought I'd lay down for a little nap.
1:24am - Just kidding. It started raining. Gotta help Bret zip down the sides of the canopy to keep everything dry. Some of the kids and people without tents were running around playing in the rain and splashing in the puddles, having a blast. How can you sleep through that?!
2:45pm - It's stopped raining. I try that nap again...
4:15pm - Woke up. That's right. An hour and a half nap in the middle of the day, no kids fighting and waking me up. Awesome!!
5:30pm - Line check, and free #1 combos for dinner -- in the restaurant with the a/c! -- for #'s 1-60.
6:00pm - Line check, and free #1 combos for dinner inside for #'s 61-120.
7:00pm - The DJ arrives.
8:15pm - We are told that there's a couple here who have been to 41 grand openings. Forty-one! That's 4,264 coupons for free #1 combos, valuing over $25,000. Good grief. Just how much chicken can a person actually eat, anyway??
8:45pm - The games begin -- scavenger hunt, hot potato, wet t-shirt contest (a race to get a knotted, wet, and frozen t-shirt untied and on), hula hoop, limbo, etc...
9:15pm - Gametime pauses for a line check and free chicken nuggets.
9:45pm - Bret plays hot potato, wins a CFA cow for the boys.
11:00pm - The DJ leaves, things start to settle down.
11:30pm - Free ice cream sundaes
12:00am - Everyone goes inside for announcements, a pep talk, and a trumpet serenade from Dan Cathy (the owner) himself. We also learn that the camera crews that have been there all day are actually from ABC World News. They will be airing a documentary about the Ten Commandments soon, and will be spotlighting Chick-fil-A for their observance of the Sabbath. Cool.
1:30am - Things begin to settle and get a little quieter, we zipped up our canopy and laid down for the night.
5am - Dad calls, did we know there's a strong band of thunderstorms with 50-60mph straight-line winds headed right for us? Ummm...no, actually. We'll do what we can. Thanks! We start packing up and securing our things.
5:30am - It begins to lightning. Everyone is called inside.
5:45am - The realization is made that this is a really big storm system, and that everyone needs to get the tents and canopies out of the parking lot and into their vehicles before 6am. More hustle and bustle and chaos.
6:00am - Everyone is in.
6:01am - The strong winds and horizontal rain begin...but so does the Grand Prize Party! (And another trumpet serenade from Dan Cathy.)
6:10am - We learn that all of the "over 100's" people will be getting 52 coupons, too!
6:15am - We run to our truck, through the rain, clutching our 104 coupons.
7:30am - Home, shower, nap...work for Bret, pick up boys for Rachel
11:42am - And on a side note, a very special new little friend was born this morning, as well! Hudson Andres Chappotin.
Tomorrow we will be going to Harvest House, a food pantry here in Burleson, to donate half of our tickets. That's one of the reasons we did all of this. We've met some people who never get to go out to eat, and realized what a wonderful gift it would be for someone to allow them to eat in a clean, delicious, kid-friendly restaurant for free.
For this reason, we were really hoping to have some other people come with us, so that we could donate as many coupons as possible. But, for various reasons, it didn't work out. We were a little bummed, but -- making lemonade out of our lemons -- Bret and I were kind of excited about the opportunity to get to just hang out with one another. And even though my tummy is a bit angry with me for consuming nothing but bread, water, fried chicken, and sweet tea for 24 hours, it was lots of fun, and I'm so glad that we did it! I really feel as though God rewarded our persistance. Thank you, Lord.