With her group cheering around her, Gloria Zatorski, from Aurora puts on a shirt that had been frozen solid as part of a game for people that have been in the parking lot waiting for the grand opening of the Oswego Chick-Fil-A in Oswego on Wednesday, August 22, 2012. | Brian Powers~Sun-Times Media
Updated: September 24, 2012 7:47AM
OSWEGO — Brad Harris grew up eating Chick-fil-A sandwiches in his childhood home in Atlanta, Ga.
So when he heard about the new Chick-fil-A store opening in Oswego, he made the trip from his now-Hoffman Estates home to be part of the First 100 Celebration.
Harris joined a tent city set up outside the store at 2740 Route 34 Wednesday morning, as scores of people turned out for the grand opening — which is at 6:30 a.m. Thursday. The first 100 adults in line will win free chicken sandwiches for a year, in the form of 52 combo meal certificates. (If there were more than 100 people in line by 6 a.m. Wednesday, the 100 spots were to be determined by raffle.)
With four children at home, Harris said, getting in line a day early made economic sense.
“Eating out can be expensive,” he said. “It’s a good budget decision for us.”
Harris sat in a chair near his tent flipping through his cell phone Wednesday afternoon. He brought some books and his iPad and planned to catch up on some reading throughout the day.
With the hot weather, and the promise of fast food chicken sandwiches, Harris was called back to his past. “This kind of feels like home,” he said.
There were guitars, unicycles and bags games as the Route 34 store took on a festive atmosphere. Chick-fil-A provided food and drinks.
South Holland resident Jumeta Morris said she and a friend found out about the opening through the company website, and they, too, set up a tent.
“We’re just chilling out,” she said. “We’ve already played a few games.”
Chick-fil-A has opened every store with a celebration since 2003, according to company spokesman Lydia Huerta. Many people attend openings at multiple stores, Huerta said. They tend to see a lot of older people and college students. The chain has given away more than $16 million in free food at almost 600 grand openings.
Heidi Rewerts of Naperville said she has been to nine grand openings in Illinois and Indiana. She arrived at 5:20 a.m. on Wednesday, and was the 97th person in line, she said. She has enjoyed making friends at the openings and meeting a new set of people, she said.
“It’s sort of like family,” she said.
But not everyone is happy about the opening, following controversial comments made by Chick-fil-A’s CEO on the subject of gay marriage. A local Facebook campaign has enlisted about 90 people to take part in a protest outside the new store at 5 p.m. Thursday.