CyclONE Nation invades Paton
By MAKAYLA TENDALL
The population of Paton doubled Tuesday afternoon as Cyclones swept through Main Street at the first stop on the Iowa State University Tailgate Tour.
Coaches Paul Rhoads, Fred Hoiberg, Bill Fennelly and Athletic Director Jamie Pollard were greeted by nearly 500 Cyclone fans outside of 209 Main — more than double the 236 permanent residents of Paton.
Paton was the first stop on the Tailgate Tour that leads the athletic department through Iowa as coaches, dance team members and John Walters, voice of the Cyclones, interact with fans of all ages.
“Part of the reason we’ve come to Paton is because of the Bauers. Vaughn and Lori have done a lot for us,” said Pollard.
Vaughn and Lori Bauer own 209 Main, a bar and grill that dominates Main Street and united almost 500 Cyclone fans across Greene and Carroll counties.
Pollard said a staff member from the athletic department contacted the Bauers about being a stop on the Tailgate Tour, and the Bauers, with much help from their restaurant manager, began planning in March.
On Tuesday, red and yellow balloons hung from decorative metal grates on the walls, yellow and red table cloths draped over every table and the CyHawk and Men’s Basketball trophies sat against the wall for visitors to pose with.
Pollard said the Tailgate Tour is not only a chance for the coaches to spend quality time on a bus together, but for the athletic department to thank fans for their support throughout the years.
“It’s just to go to our fans on their home turf. All year long, they spend their money to come see us, and we just feel like this is our way to give back and come to them,” Pollard said.
But adults weren’t the only ones excited to mingle with the athletic department. Children make up the other half of Pollard’s plan.
“The big kind of emphasis is to really draw kids out. We call it claiming seats for future Cyclones,” Pollard said. “We’ve done this about six years, and you see kids that are growing up now.”
As hundreds of adults in Cyclone garb — from jerseys and sweatshirts to cardinal and gold-colored blouses and sweaters — milled in the restaurant and street, a school bus unloaded 100 Paton-Churdan school students, third to eighth grade, who ditched their lunch period for a chance to celebrate the Cyclones.
Katie Nygaard, a middle school teacher, even pulled her infant son out of day care to join the students. Nygaard said it was important for the students to enjoy the afternoon.
“We like to get involved in the community. Even if they weren’t a Cyclone fan, I think supporting Iowa sports is important. We like to give kids new experiences,” Nygaard said.
Nygaard said her husband has high hopes for her son becoming a future Cyclone.
“I think the pictures are more for Daddy.”
The tornado siren sounded after the coaches exited the bus, simulating the famous Cyclone Weather Alert gimmick played before games.
Fennelly, Hoiberg and Rhoads signed shirts and ball caps and took pictures with both children and adults while Cy and members of the dance team took pictures with the kids. Adults danced and clapped along to the fight song and “Sweet Caroline,” a staple song at all Cyclone games.
“It was just fun to have something in your small town because a lot of times people don’t have that,” Lori Bauer said about the event.
John Walters, radio voice for Iowa State athletics, said the Tailgate Tours are a chance for the department to interact much more personally with fans.
“This was a way to get families involved, get kids involved, put all our cultures together and put them on a bus,” Walters said. “If you want to get a picture with Fred Hoiberg, this is the place. It’s just more personal.”
Bauer said the athletic department told them the turnout for midday stops on the Tailgate Tour is usually about 100 people.
“We said, ‘Let’s blow their socks off.’ ”