It didn’t matter who you talked to on Montlake before Saturday’s Husky football game, the emotions were pretty much the same.
They were just happy to be attending a Washington football game at Husky Stadium after a season in which fans were not allowed because of COVID-19.
Or at least they were happy before the game, and before witnessing a shocking 13-7 loss to Montana.
But Saturday started off as a day of celebration, both for fans who’ve been coming to Husky football games for decades or first-timers. It was a joyous time for a Husky legend, a player’s father and a UW sophomore.
Being at Husky Stadium again after nearly two years was a big deal for fans, no matter the opponent.
“The last year and a half has been really difficult, and when you come to a sports event, people gather and they get excited and it’s great to be back,” said Tara Jacobson of Edmonds, who has had season tickets for about 40 years and was tailgating with about 15 others.
“It was a mental toll (last year),” she added. “You get into the season and you miss it, and you get into the postseason and you realize you didn’t have a season. You miss the rhythm of it, the celebration of tailgating with friends and cheering on your favorite players.”
Milan Mar, a UW sophomore from Kenmore, was lined up early in front of the entrance for the Dawg Pack.
“I am so excited to be here and to see this atmosphere. Finally,” she said. “It’s going to be nice to see the players on the field and just to physically be here. I was really disappointed not to be able to see any games last year but watching them on TV was nice.”
Nice, but not exactly the same.
Randy Ronish from Kent and his brother Rick have been coming to Husky games for more than 30 years and family tailgating is a long tradition.
Randy and Rick both attended UW as did Rick’s four adult children and Randy’s three adult children. Six of the kids made it to the tailgate celebration Saturday.
“I am beyond happy to be back,” Randy Ronish said. “It’s our gathering spot in the fall. Husky football, there is nothing like that. We’ve done it for decades and we all bleed purple and gold, and I expect my grandkids to do the same.”
Trevon Pleasant also was an early arrival at Husky Stadium on Saturday, and said, “It’s good to see everyone out here getting ready to enjoy this game.”
Pleasant’s son Kamari is a senior Husky running back. Trevon said watching the games on TV last season “was very awkward.”
“Watching it on TV, it more or less didn’t look like a game, it more looked like practice,” he said.
Jerry Jensen had extra reason to be happy to be with his family at Husky Stadium. A three-year starting linebacker for UW (1995-97), he was set to be honored during the game as a Husky Legend.
“It’s awesome, right,” Jensen said of fans being back. “You think what the world has went through with the pandemic, and you get to come out here and see a little normalcy.”
The last word went to 11-year-old Zach Bradley, whose family has season tickets but was coming to his first game at Husky Stadium.
“For years,” he said when asked how long he waited for his first game at Husky Stadium. “I just hope we dominate them.”