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El Paso pride runs deep at Sun Bowl

By: Melissa Gundersen
EL PASO, Texas -- Thousands of local and out-of-state college football fans spent their entire Tuesday celebrating the 80th annual Sun Bowl.

Tailgaters filled the University of Texas at El Paso parking lots since early in the morning. Many young fans tossed around a football while families cooked steaks, drank beer and some even cranked up the music and busted out their dance moves.

For many El Pasoans, it's a day to let loose with close friends and family.

"I just ran into my sister-in-law and her crew parked right next door. My sons are on their way -- my one is here and one is on the way. (We're) just having a good time," said Carmen Solis-Rodriguez of west El Paso.

Solis-Rodriguez said it's tradition for her and her family to come to the Sun Bowl and tailgate. But said the main reason she keeps the tradition alive is to meet out-of-state fans and introduce them to El Paso's culture.

"We just made some friends from UCLA and they're just terrific. We've been chatting all morning so it's good. It's been fun," said Solis-Rodriguez.

During the tailgate, it was clear El Paso pride runs deep.

David Ornelas of west El Paso has been to 30 Sun Bowl games. He said while he cheers for the teams playing on the field, he's really rooting for the host

"(I) support El Paso. That's who wins -- El Paso. That's my team El Paso," said Ornelas.

People from California, Virginia and other states said they feel welcomed with open arms and are enjoying the visit.

"When we found out that they were coming again this year I said I really wanted to get aboard. Love El Paso," said Warren Earnshaw of California.

This is Earnshaw's second time visiting the Sun City to cheer on the Bruins.

"The Sun Bowl back in '05 was very good. I noticed that a lot of people from El Paso support the bowl and that's great," said Earnshaw.

Earnshaw said out of the many places he's traveled to for football games El Paso is one of his favorites.

"Very hospitable, nice people," said Earnshaw.

"I've got to tell you, the hospitality in El Paso has got to be some of the best that we've seen," said Brandon Gregory of Virginia.

This is Gregory's first time in El Paso.

"This has certainly exceeded our expectations," said Gregory.

Out-of-state fans said while Tuesday's tailgate was full of surprises, the whole El Paso experience will be a lasting memory.


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