Libby and Jake Knupp are both retired, in their 70s, and currently residing in St. Petersburg, FL.
But on Wednesday they were bundled up in coats sitting beside a tent at Chick-fil-A in Severna Park. And they have done that same thing 103 times before, all over the country.
“We’ve done this in a tornado, snow, rain, hot and with tents blowing all over,” Jake Knupp said.
The Knupps were camped out for the new Severna Park Chick-fil-A’s First 100, which awards the first 100 people with free chicken for a year. However, Chick-fil-A doesn’t open until Thursday, so all those participating have been lined up since about 5 a.m. Wednesday waiting for the opening.
Libby Knupp—who sports a stuffed cow on her hat, and a painted face—said they started doing First 100 in July 2007, and have attended more than 100 events since. She said it’s not really the chicken that keeps them coming back, but the people and the families.
However, she does enjoy free chicken.
“If we get in the only way we would leave prior to getting coupons is on a stretcher,” Libby Knupp said with a laugh.
Each time Chick-fil-A opens a new store, it awards the First 100 people a free sandwich meal per week, for a year (equating to 52 meals). The event has become so popular though, that Chick-fil-A limits people lining up to 24 hours in advance of the opening.
At 6 a.m. on Wednesday, Chick-fil-A employees said they had 160 people, so the winners were chosen at random. They then have to campout on Chick-fil-A property all day and night to receive their prize.
For those that got tired during the campout, Hand & Stone Message and Facial Spa offered complimentary chair messages along the Chick-fil-A patio.
Among the 160 people in attendance was Melinda Crafton from Richmond, VA. Crafton has attended about 40 First 100 events. She said it’s like a giant tailgate.
“I just found that I love the camaraderie,” Crafton said. “I love everything Chick-fil-A stands for. I love the family entertainment environment, and I have made some really quality life-long friends at these. It’s really a hoot.”
Herb Olsen from Severna Park was also among the crowd on Wednesday. He said he has attended the event before, at the Chick-fil-A in Edgewater, but it wasn’t as crowded.
“I am too old to jump out of airplanes…I am too tired to climb mountains, but Chick-fil-A I can handle,” Olsen said. “Besides that I love Chick-fil-A.”