Southern University couple still tailgating 35 years later | Events
Tailgating at Southern University during football season is a tradition enjoyed by many. But no one has mastered it better than Southern Alumni Wardell and Josie Ballentine of Alexandria.
They were the first couple to drive their motor home on campus in 1978. Soon others followed and the tailgating tradition was born.
Now nearly 35 years later, the college sweethearts are still hosting family and friends at Ballentine Plaza, the RV Park on campus fittingly named in their honor.
“People just come by. We don’t invite them. They just come by and we’re just nice to everybody,” Josie Ballentine, 78, says. “It’s a Southern thing.”
On any given Saturday, you will find Ballentine and her husband Wardell, 82, sitting in front of their motor home, mingling with the crowd that includes everyone from Southern board members and administrators to family, friends, alumni, and strangers alike.
“When there were bigger crowds at the stadium, we had 100 to 200 people come by,” Ballentine says.
Ballentine graduated from Southern in 1954. Her husband followed in 1956. They’ve been big supporters of the university ever since.
“This is how we give back by entertaining for the university. We really do entertain for the university,” she says.
On game weekends, the couple start preparing their menu on Wednesday and drive to Baton Rouge on Thursday. They usually arrive on campus Friday evening after their daughter Sandra Smith gets off from work. Smith has now taken over driving duties.
They entertain Friday night until late Saturday night then head home on Sunday.
“My husband and I just love people. We enjoy the people,” Ballentine says. “We keep doing it because it’s something we like to do.”
Even though she admits the preparation and entertaining is a lot of work, they have no plans to retire.
"We'll keep doing it until God says we can't do it anymore," Ballentine says. "Why not? It's just so much fun."
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