Since inception in 1968, the Chick-fil-A Bowl (originally the Peach Bowl) has been a holiday tradition in Atlanta, having had most of its meetings fall between Christmas and New Year’s, including 18 on New Year’s Eve.
Participation in events surrounding the bowl is also becoming somewhat of a holiday tradition with the Collins Hill football program.
What started four years ago as a fun family event and service project between Lawrenceville resident Don Bayles Jr. and his son, Eagles junior lineman Davis Bayles, in doing volunteer work for the bowl has now grown into something bigger.
“The first year, it was just me and my son,” said Bayles Jr., who is a teacher at Central Gwinnett High School. “I thought it would be neat to work with the Chick-fil-A Bowl, so I went to the (bowl’s) website and clicked on volunteers and filled out the application and went to the meetings.
“(Davis) had a good time with it, so he called a friend and told him about it. Over the summer, word got around. The next year, we had probably four other kids join us. Last year, we had about six or seven kids. This year, we’ve got 16 kids and three adults.”
The tasks the Collins Hill party, as with every other Chick-fil-A Bowl volunteer, vary.
This year, they will include helping marshal the Chick-fil-A Bowl parade, which winds its way through downtown Atlanta this morning, and doing various functions for the bowl’s Fan Fest later in the day, such as taking tickets, manning the welcoming booths and helping with the team walks at the Georgia World Congress Center.
“We’ll spend the night downtown (on Thursday), do the parade and Fan Fest and then go home and watch the game,” Bayles said.
The game, which pits South Carolina vs. Florida State, kicks off at 7:30 at the Georgia Dome.
As Bayles points out, all volunteers provide valuable services in helping the bowl stay as successful as it has been.
Plus, there are also plenty of fringe benefits.
“A lot of the cool jobs, like driving the coaches around town to the various events, usually don’t have openings,” Bayles said. “But sometimes, we get to work the player suites at the team hotels, and you get to meet some of the players and coaches, or you can be a team liaison.
“Plus, they all get community service hours (for school), and they get a chance to give back to the community.”
This year’s group includes both Bayles and his son, Collins Hill seniors Zak Kennedy, Chris Snyder and Jake Star, juniors Tyler Agee, Bradley Johnson, T.J. Taylor, Andrew Pak, Corbin Palmer, Shaw Stachler, Brandon Black, Alan Hinderleider, Brandon Bills and Chris Madkins, plus Bills’ brother Chandler and parents Mike Hinderleider and Russ Palmer.