ORLAND PARK, Ill. (STMW) – High winds whipped across the Chick-fil-A Restaurant parking lot on Wednesday in southwest suburban Orland Park, but that didn’t deter about 90 people from camping out in anticipation of the grand opening this morning.

A tent city sprang up Wednesday morning in the lot, 15605 LaGrange Road, as fans of the chicken-sandwich chain gathered in hopes of being among the 100 people who will win a free weekly combo meal for a year.

Winds destroyed some of the tents by late afternoon, but that didn’t dampen the spirits of the Chick-fil-A fans.

Pete Rizzuto and five friends saw the wind wreck their tent, but they had plenty of other creature comforts to get them through the night, including a sofa that they transported in a van. They also brought a laptop computer, DVDs, a cooler loaded with snacks and drinks and plenty of blankets.

“You get to meet people who are as crazy as you are,” said Rizzuto, a Plainfield resident, who was one of the 100 people who attended Chick-fil-A’s September grand opening in Aurora.

Brian Chase and Nick Tanner spent the afternoon playing a game they invented that involved pitching a stone onto parking lot stripes.

“We invented the rock game,” Tanner said.

The pair arrived at the restaurant at 5:30 a.m. to guarantee a spot in line.

“I grew up on Chick-fil-A back in Indiana where I’m originally from,” said Tanner, a North Aurora resident. “It’s all chicken filet, so it’s not processed.”

Peter Boyes, of Plainfield, was introduced to Chick-fil-A when he lived in North Carolina and described himself as “Chick-fil-A fanatic.”

Boyes arrived in Orland Park at 7:30 a.m. He said the time passed quickly, partly because organized games were played throughout the afternoon.

Mike Keller, of Cincinnati, Ohio, arrived before 5 a.m. and was the first person to register. Keller proudly displayed the Chick-fil-A meal voucher he received at the grand opening in Paducah, Ky. The Orland Park opening is the fifth that Keller has attended this year.

He said receiving the food voucher is secondary to the camaraderie that develops between the people who attend the grand openings.

“It’s not about the food,” Keller said. “It’s about the people.”

Marissa Thomas wore a Chick-fil-A T-shirt that signified that she participated in the Aurora grand opening. Thomas said she was introduced to Chick-fil-A as a teenager in North Carolina and always tries to incorporate stops at Chick-fil-A into family vacations.

“You feel good when you walk in a Chick-fil-A,” said Thomas, a Plainfield resident.

The Orland Park location will be Chick-fil-A’s second Chicago-area restaurant. One opened in Aurora last month, and the chain debuts in Wheaton next month. The company has two spots in downtown Chicago planned for 2011 openings.

(Source: Sun-Times Media Wire © Chicago Sun-Times 2010. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)

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