On a wing and a prayer — Some come out of necessity, some for convenience and others just come for the memories. The common thread: the free food. More than 100 people pitched tents and waited Wednesday outside the new Chick-Fil-A restaurant on Airport-Pulling Road, just north of Pine Ridge, each hoping to get their hands on 52 coupons, each worth a free meal. The store opened its doors Thursday morning at 6:30 a.m. and gave the coupons to the first 100 people who had arrived the day before and received wristbands. Once a wristband was handed out, the wearer could not leave the property until the next day when the store opened or they would be disqualified. Nils Taranger, 19, bottom right, and his friends Courtney Randazza, 22, back right, her sister Christie Randazza, 19, and Matthew Rogers, 19, left their homes in Kissimmee at 6 a.m. Wednesday and barely made it in time to receive a number in the top 100. Taranger took a nap knowing that he'd be the one driving back the next day, and possibly staying up all night. 'The coupons are amazing, especially for a college student,' says the older Randazza, who attends Florida Christian College and has been to three openings. Benton Lowey-Ball, 21, a student at University of North Florida agrees. 'I did one of these (openings) last year and it's pretty much my meal plan,' he says. Arriving early and camping out to receive the coupons is worth it, he says. Fifty-two coupons would mean a free meal every week of the year. While young 20-somethings were the majority hanging out in the parking lot, a few older folks were up for the challenge as well. Peggy Coley, 79, of St. Petersburg and her son Richard, 54, braved the heat radiating from the asphalt and an afternoon storm that cooled it all back down. 'She worries about us getting too many coupons,' says Richard of the 104 free meals they would have between them. 'But I don't think that's possible.' Peggy likes the idea that if she doesn't feel like cooking one night, they can just go to the Chick-Fil-A. John Ruck, 77, arrived with his grandson in the early morning hours Wednesday morning, leaving home in St. Petersburg at 3 a.m. so they could be Nos. 15 and 16 in line. Ruck has been to one other opening: last January in St. Pete. He went to that one alone. 'I like to do things like this,' says Ruck. 'My wife passed away a year ago July. She loved Chick-Fil-A. I did the one in January for her and me.' 'I love the strawberry milkshake. You have to pucker pretty good to get it through the straw. It's a two or three pucker shake.' he says with a laugh. His grandson Stevenm a 19-year-old University of Florida student, sat quietly in the tent reading a book. Steven's motivation for camping on the hard surface for 52 free meals — to experience the time with his grandfather. 'I've been through the coldest opening in (St. Petersburg) and I think I've been through the wettest and the hottest here,' says the elder Ruck. Published August 21, 2006

Photo by LEXEY SWALL, Daily News

On a wing and a prayer — Some come out of necessity, some for convenience and others just come for the memories. The common thread: the free food. More than 100 people pitched tents and waited Wednesday outside the new Chick-Fil-A restaurant on Airport-Pulling Road, just north of Pine Ridge, each hoping to get their hands on 52 coupons, each worth a free meal. The store opened its doors Thursday morning at 6:30 a.m. and gave the coupons to the first 100 people who had arrived the day before and received wristbands. Once a wristband was handed out, the wearer could not leave the property until the next day when the store opened or they would be disqualified. Nils Taranger, 19, bottom right, and his friends Courtney Randazza, 22, back right, her sister Christie Randazza, 19, and Matthew Rogers, 19, left their homes in Kissimmee at 6 a.m. Wednesday and barely made it in time to receive a number in the top 100. Taranger took a nap knowing that he'd be the one driving back the next day, and possibly staying up all night. "The coupons are amazing, especially for a college student," says the older Randazza, who attends Florida Christian College and has been to three openings. Benton Lowey-Ball, 21, a student at University of North Florida agrees. "I did one of these (openings) last year and it's pretty much my meal plan," he says. Arriving early and camping out to receive the coupons is worth it, he says. Fifty-two coupons would mean a free meal every week of the year. While young 20-somethings were the majority hanging out in the parking lot, a few older folks were up for the challenge as well. Peggy Coley, 79, of St. Petersburg and her son Richard, 54, braved the heat radiating from the asphalt and an afternoon storm that cooled it all back down. "She worries about us getting too many coupons," says Richard of the 104 free meals they would have between them. "But I don't think that's possible." Peggy likes the idea that if she doesn't feel like cooking one night, they can just go to the Chick-Fil-A. John Ruck, 77, arrived with his grandson in the early morning hours Wednesday morning, leaving home in St. Petersburg at 3 a.m. so they could be Nos. 15 and 16 in line. Ruck has been to one other opening: last January in St. Pete. He went to that one alone. "I like to do things like this," says Ruck. "My wife passed away a year ago July. She loved Chick-Fil-A. I did the one in January for her and me." "I love the strawberry milkshake. You have to pucker pretty good to get it through the straw. It's a two or three pucker shake." he says with a laugh. His grandson Stevenm a 19-year-old University of Florida student, sat quietly in the tent reading a book. Steven's motivation for camping on the hard surface for 52 free meals — to experience the time with his grandfather. "I've been through the coldest opening in (St. Petersburg) and I think I've been through the wettest and the hottest here," says the elder Ruck. Published August 21, 2006

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