Of the many attractions to be found in Indiana, one of the most well-known is the Basilica of the Sacred Heart located at the University of Notre Dame. As such, this particular sight shot to the top of our itinerary when my parents flew in from Colorado to visit for the weekend. The University of Notre Dame is a lush and beautiful campus with its many carved stone doorways and pale brick structures. The spire of the gothic-style Basilica is visible from the highway, outreaching all else in its quest for the heavens. It is reminiscent of the towering cathedrals which are the centerpieces of many historic European old town squares. The arched ceilings of the Basilica are painted royal blue and metallic gold in eternal imitation of a cloudless starry night sky. I felt like an 11 year old at Hogwarts entering the great hall for the first time and looking up. Many biblical characters are also richly portrayed in the exquisite plafond.
We were thrilled to spend part of our Saturday morning touring this stunning place but what we didn’t know is that Saturday, October 12th was Game Day. Not just any game day. This was a Notre Dame home game against the USC Trojans, the top rival of the fighting Irish. The wide trimmed lawns and student commons were hardly the only green on campus. Toddlers to grandparents flocked to Notre Dame, sporting their proud Irish colors in preparation for the event of the season. The vaulted halls of the Basilica were flooded with emerald as fans thronged to the university for a day of sightseeing and tailgating.
The electric buzz of pregame anticipation was infectious. The student commons’ were dotted with easy-ups where handwritten signs advertised brats and burgers for sale in support of countless student organizations. The smokey scent of game food sizzling on a grill wafted around every corner and we followed our noses when our stomachs began to growl from all the leisurely strolling about campus. As we bit into our brats, we spotted the crisp uniforms and tall emblemed hats of the marching band as the musicians started assembling and tuning up for the game.
With all the vivifying excitement surrounding us, my mom didn’t feel right calling it a day until we had stopped in the school bookstore and stocked up on Notre Dame green apparel which she noted with appreciation was a ‘good green.’ As Notre Dame is a D1 school and will never compete against the silver and blue of my beloved Colorado School of Mines Orediggers, I can safely say that my parents and I are now happy and proud to be Notre Dame fans. We plan to explore the Grotto of Our Lady of Lourdes on our next Notre Dame adventure.
We concluded our Notre Dame outing by being the only people to prematurely leave the campus ahead of kickoff. Our bus driver, a friendly sort from Chicago chatted us up until we reached the lot where we had paid $30 to park our car for a couple of hours. While families threw footballs and munched on classic tailgate grub, we departed, heading to the next stop on our day’s itinerary — Michigan City.