Tomina Crowe of Moline was first in line for 52 free Chick-fil-A number one combo meals when the Davenport store opened on 53rd Street in 2008.
Crowe, 26, again had first place Wednesday as she sat with her mother, aunt, and other friends outside the new Chick-fil-A on John Deere Road in Moline, hoping to be one of the first 100 people chosen for 52 free meals.
As people lined up to participate in the 13-year tradition, Chick-fil-A staff was inside training the store's 80 employees.
“I knew five weeks ago when this was going to happen and had the days marked on my calendar,” Crowe said when asked how long she had planned the campout. She was one of more than a dozen people who brought a tent in which to sleep.
“I’m actually getting paid to be here,” Crowe said with a grin. “I had vacation time so I’m using two days of vacation."
Tiffany Simmons, account executive for CP Communications of Suwanee, Georgia, which represents Chick-fil-A, said the custom of awarding the meals began in 2003 in Arizona as a gesture of appreciation by a store owner. The tradition took off from there.
According to the company, nearly $27 million in free food has been given away through 2015.
“We’ve had people camp out in snow, rain, heat and cold,” she said. “I’ve seen them bring anything from tents to recliners, radios and digital televisions; virtually whole living rooms.”
The first 100 people receive digital cards with 52 number one combo meals on them, Simmons said. “They can use it any way they want. They can get a meal a week, or take 52 friends out for dinner.”
If more than 100 people show up there will be a random drawing to choose the 100 winners, she added.
Twins Lashana and Lacanna Dixon, 25 of Davenport, sat on a blanket and studied as they waited for their hoped-for meal cards. Both are students at Black Hawk College, Moline.
“We’re students,” Lacanna said. “Every little bit helps.”
The drawing for the first 100 and other prizes was to be held at 6 a.m. today.