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Thousands gather for pep rally at Alamo

Michael Bryan | Friday, October 30, 2009

SAN ANTONIO – Thousands of Irish fans gathered in San Antonio Friday night for a special pep rally at the Alamo that featured Notre Dame alumni and broadcasters Don Criqui and Allen Pinkett, San Antonio Mayor Julián Castro, athletic director Jack Swarbrick and the entire Notre Dame band.

Castro welcomed the Irish fans to San Antonio and to the historic scene of the pep rally.

“I hope that you guys have had a chance to go and see the River Walk and the Alamo,” Castro said. “I can’t think of a better place to celebrate the fighting spirit than here in front of the historic Alamo.”

The mayor also indicated Notre Dame may have a little local help for their game against Washington State.

“I have to be neutral — you’ll see I wore a blue tie — but I can tell you that you’ve got a lot of nuns and priests in the area saying a lot of prayers,” Castro said. “So good luck and go Irish.”

Swarbrick seemed pleased by the crowd gathered for the pep rally before the neutral site game.

“When you get into an experiment like this — and this is an experiment, taking a home game on the road — you need a great partner,” Swarbrick said. “And we couldn’t have a better partner for our first off-site game than San Antonio.”

Football play-by-play announcer Don Criqui warned the crowd not to take the Cougars lightly despite being a 28 point underdog.

“They have a history of some great quarterbacks that have played there, and [freshman quarterback Jeff] Tuel might be another one,” Criqui said.

Color analyst and former Irish running back Allen Pinkett was less hesitant in his prediction for a big Notre Dame victory.

“When I was playing I loved playing on the road and taking it over,” Pinkett said. “And tomorrow we’re taking over this city.”

Alumni Association director Chuck Lennon led the event and was pleased that the Irish were playing in the Alamodome on Saturday so Notre Dame fans could actually “raise the roof”.

The entire Notre Dame marching band made the trip to San Antonio and played a Texas medley of “Yellow Rose of Texas” and “Deep in the Heart of Texas” for the local crowd.

A mariachi band served as entertainment before the beginning of the pep rally, playing for a crowd of local Notre Dame supporters and Irish fans that made the trip to San Antonio.

Dan Collins, the Notre Dame leprechaun, also gave a fiery speech and the Irish cheerleaders also led the crowd in cheers.

More activities are planned throughout the city for Saturday, including another performance by the band outside San Fernando Cathedral at 2:00 p.m. The Alumni Association is also sponsoring a service project the morning of the game, painting a local school cafeteria from 8:00-11:00 a.m.