The beer distributors are all out of PBR. The Easton and Bethlehem police are preparing for the crowds. And the rumble of Mercedes and Lexus SUVs from New Jersey, Connecticut and New York is unmistakable. It must be Lehigh-Laf weekend.
For those of you who did not attend one of these schools, are not from the Lehigh Valley, or don't care at all about football, you'd still be wise to pay attention. This Saturday, November 19, the roads, neighborhoods and institutions around Easton and Bethlehem will be full of alumni and students gearing up for the 147th meeting of their two football teams.
Quick wiki lesson: Lehigh University and Lafayette College are located 17 miles apart in eastern Pennsylvania, and are both members of the Patriot League. Their football rivalry has been played 146 times since 1884, making it the most-played football rivalry in the nation. It is also the longest uninterrupted rivalry, since the teams have met every year since 1897.
The game is hosted at the stadiums on Lehigh's and Lafayette's campuses in alternate years. This year, Lehigh "welcomes" Lafayette to their home in Bethlehem/Saucon Valley. If you don't already have tickets, you could watch a live broadcast online, or at bars including Starter's Riverport, Bethlehem Brew Works, and JP Macgrady's in Bethlehem.
Friday night is always a big night to party on and off campus, since young alumni come back to town a little early to start pre-gaming. On Saturday morning, alumni meet up at their old fraternity house for a ceremonial beer or 10, and after the game is over, most will be swerving their way home from Goodman Campus. Many will stay the night in the region's hotels and enjoy a meal at one of their old favorite restaurants (beware, if you were planning to get breakfast at Billy's Diner or a burger at College Hill Tavern this weekend!).
The rivalry is so serious you can taste it in the tailgate beer. (Lehigh's bookstore sells a T-shirt that has "Lafayette" on the front, and "Because not everyone can get into Lehigh" on the back.) So figure out who you're for, and stay away from the people on the other side (and the drunk drivers!).