New tailgating event lifting off Thursday at the Columbia airport

08/27/2014 10:14 PM

08/28/2014 12:48 AM

Columbia Metropolitan Airport will get in on college football game day activities on Thursday when it hosts an open tailgate party in the airport’s main terminal lobby.

Billed as a family-friendly event free and open to the public, the tailgate party precedes the Southeastern Conference’s University of South Carolina vs. Texas A&M season opening contest at Williams-Brice Stadium in Columbia.

Tailgating at the airport goes from 2-6 p.m. and kick-off for the game is at 6 p.m. A limited number of free parking passes will be available for tailgaters at the airport.

“At the end of the day, the heart and soul of the event is a fun way for us to say thank you to everybody who flies in and out of Columbia Metropolitan Airport on a regular basis and has really supported us through the years,” said Kaela Harmon, airport public relations manager.

The Columbia airport has had a good year so far, Harmon said, serving more passengers and moving more freight than a year ago, and airport officials decided to tie in its appreciation of the public with a big, local public event – the start of college football.

The airport’s passenger count improved almost 8 percent above a year ago and shipped cargo was up almost 14 percent over this time last year, airport statistics show.

Free hotdogs, face-painting, a photo booth, drink specials and television monitors tuned to pre-game football broadcasts are all part of the day’s activities, Harmon said. Giveaways and some surprises also are on tap, and the latest Gamecock gear from UnderArmor will be on sale in the airport’s gift shop, Paradies.

Much of the day’s activity naturally will be centered around travelers passing through the airport as normal, but the local public is welcome, Harmon said.

“We do want the community to know they are invited, especially those kids who are getting out of school early. We’re going have cotton candy, face-painting, sno-cones, a photo booth – we’re going to have a lot of other things going on from our family-friendly activities,” Harmon said.

“So if people do want to come out for the event, we certainly plan to accommodate them.”

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