Libby Knupp was attending her 87th Chick-fil-A Wednesday afternoon in Springfield. She had already been camped out for 10 hours, and she wasn't going anywhere.
"Once we'd get into a Chick-fil-A [opening], the only way we'd leave is on a stretcher."
Knupp, 71, and her husband Jake, 73, live in St. Petersburg, Fla., when they aren't traveling the country attending Chick-fil-A openings. Along with more than 100 other people in the parking lot of the new Chick-fil-A on Backlick Road, the Knupps were to receive 52 coupons for free Chick-fil-A as part of the chain's "First 100" promotion.
"All our friends think we're nuts," said Jake, lying on a cot under their canopy. That doesn't stop them from taking their meal coupons, though, according to Jake.
The couple passes the 24 hours in parking lots across the country by playing cards, chatting with other Chick-fil-A afficionados in neighboring tents and taking naps.
"We don't sleep the night before," Libby Knupp said. "We're so revved up."
A few tents away, Mary Dix and her father Gilbert Cofer were also on a Chick-fil-A stakeout. While Cofer read on his Kindle, Dix passed the time by whittling a walking stick. Dix's brother John, visiting from Tennessee, convinced them to go with him.
Dix and her brother praised the camraderie felt in the camp, although John admitted that, with their tents, the Chick-fil-A enthusiasts can be mistaken for protesters.
"It's a reaffirmation of America," Dix said.
Nearby, a group of young friends had more mercenary concerns. Stephen Mogensen of Herndon, Thomas Workman, and Marie Horn had arrived Wednesday morning hoping for a year of Chick-fil-A, but when because there were more than 100 hopefuls, two of them were chosen as alternates. They hoped that weather would drive some people from the camp before 6 a.m. Thursday.
The trio had advice for aspiring Chick-fil-A coupon-mongers. Take things to do, they said, and bring lots of clothes ... and "bring food that's not chicken," Workman said.