There was a disc jockey, a pig, and not nearly enough blankets to combat the cold.
Camping out for the big game was an experience I had always wanted. Early last week some of my friends came together and agreed that at 5 p.m. on Friday we were going to take all of our blankets and chairs and meet up at the Wells Fargo Arena and get in line.
On Friday at 4:20 p.m. I drove to downtown Phoenix and parked my car to meet up at the Downtown Phoenix Campus with some friends to get on the light rail stop at Van Buren Street and Central Avenue.
I had my lawn chair in one arm and poster board for signs in the other. I had a backpack stuffed with a jacket, markers for signs, granola bars and some other camping out supplies.
We got on the light trail full of commuters heading home for the weekend while we were heading to our new home on a cold cement square in front of Wells Fargo Arena.
The spot we got was right behind the Pac-12 television stage and we laid out five blankets claiming our home for the next 15 hours.
I started making conversation with the people who set up a tent behind us to pass the time. They were three freshmen from New York, Arizona and the Philippines.
Eventually, through conversation I found out they had an extra sleeping bag. I just hit the jackpot. Many of us brought what little camping materials we had and were hopelessly under prepared.
They told me that if I needed it later to just ask and the gratitude for such a kind gesture would not be forgotten.
They eventually went into their tent and I rejoined my group and started working on my signs. Or at least attempted to until I realized the pens I bought earlier that day from Staples didn’t work. They were out of ink. I am still trying to wrap my ahead around that one.
Eventually, my friend Daniel and I went to CVS to gather supplies and buy more. Daniel and I went to high school together in southern California. We caught up about things Arizona State related and things about back home.
We walked from Wells Fargo Arena to the CVS on Mill Avenue and University Drive. The university had a steady hum of life and happy ASU fans running around. We reached Mill and it was beautifully decorated with holiday lights with the cold to match. I felt like I was home.
The cold was setting in and the wind started to howl so we started to hustle over to CVS. The warmth I felt in CVS would be so thoroughly and sorrowfully missed during that cold night.
I found everything I needed and wandered around the store just trying to get warm. We called back to camp to make sure we had everything that we needed.
We ended up buying some water bottles, snacks and Christmas tree Peeps. We had to buy the Christmas tree Peeps because the Stanford Cardinal mascot is a tree. So we ate delicious bite-sized versions of our opponent throughout the night.
When Daniel and I got back to camp and our camp swelled to about 16 people. I had a free Red Bull from the Red Bull girls that were handing out energy drinks earlier in the night and then our neighbors gave us another one, including the extra sleeping bag.
I now realize the irony of the juxtaposing gifts. I didn’t get sleep, but I let my friend Billy use the sleeping bag because I started to realize I wasn’t sleeping that night. I gave the “jackpot” away to a friend.
The night kept going on and I kept making signs, threw the football around, and socializing. There was a disc jockey around the corner bumping some pretty good music. It was a great atmosphere.
I decided to take a break from sign making to get some dinner. It was 10 p.m. so it was more of a midnight snack but the Jimmy John’s on College Avenue just opened and I hadn’t been yet.
I walked through the camp and saw my friend, Briel. She lived on the same floor of the dorms as me last year so I stopped and said hi. She asked me, “Have you seen the pig yet?”
Confused, I replied, “No. But is there a pig?” At that moment Murphy the white pig came out behind a tree and greeted his guests.
Someone brought a real live pig. Some stuff you just can’t make up. It was a little white pig named Murhpy that another ASU student brought. He was chewing on a green apple pushing it around with his snout.
I spoke to a friend of the owner, or at least someone claiming to know the owner, and he said they got the pig from the owner’s sister after she had to leave the pig in Phoenix after a move to a different city.
Why they brought a pig to the camp out I don’t know, but everyone heard about the pig by the end of the night.
After meeting Murphy the mascot of what was now termed “Camp Fargo,” I got Jimmy John’s. While in the store I was again basking in the comforting indoor heating.
I came back, ate my sandwich, and shortly after I finished someone was bored and wanted to get Dutch Bros. Coffee. I had already drank two Red Bulls and a coke with the Jimmy John’s so I had my fair share of caffeine.
Yet I agreed, and went because I wanted to be with the few people who were still awake. It was a long, cold walk and when I wasn’t talking to my friends I was talking myself into believing it wasn’t that cold.
We got some coffee, which was excellent because it warmed us up. We headed back to camp and threw around the football some more and everyone else fell asleep.
After everyone was a sleep I put the finishing touches on my poorly made signs and walked around our camp to keep warm.
My feet hurt really bad because of the cold. I feverishly checked the clock on my phone waiting for 7:18 a.m. for the sun to rise.
At 5:30 a.m. my friend Julian woke up and went to the bathroom. When he came back he told me we should get in line because everyone started lining up. I woke some people up so they could pack up the camp and rejoin us.
We waited in line for what seemed like forever. I was starting to lose it. It was too cold and I wanted to light my feet on fire. I wasn’t sure if I was more excited to see the sun rise or to finally get my ticket I waited 15 hours for.
The doors opened and several ASU chants broke out and a couple minutes later the first students to get their tickets came out of the arena hooting and hollering over the great section they were assigned.
When we entered through those doors it hit me like warm indoor heating that we were really going to get great seats to the Pac-12 championship. After flashing our tickets and IDs we all got section 32.
We got dead center of the student section, which I never experienced in my two years at ASU.
Even though we lost to Stanford in an embarrassing fashion I don’t regret camping out. It was a lot of fun and the friendships I made with the stories I have to tell I don’t think I could have made a better decision this year.
I’ll never forget “Camp Fargo” or our mayor, Murphy the pig.
• Matt Covert is a sophomore at the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication at Arizona State University. He is interning this semester for the AFN.