Epsie Erickson is one of those rare individuals who has proven their loyalty to an annual tradition for the past 65 years. Usually you’ll find her sitting at her desk at Knott and Company Jewelers on Hogan Street, but this is the time of year you’ll find her somewhere else: in the stands at the Gator Bowl game.
She hasn’t attended every edition of the annual college football classic for the last several years, preferring to send her children, grandchildren or customers to the stadium for the experience, but every year since the game was founded in December, 1945 Erickson has purchased at least two tickets.
She said while the Gator Bowl has given her many fond memories, the Dec. 28, 1957 game will always hold a special place in her heart. Not because Tennessee defeated Texas A&M 3-0 that year, but because of something that began during the game and concluded the next day.
“I went into labor at the game, but I wouldn’t leave,” Erickson recalled. “The next day my son George was born.” He went on to graduate from Florida State, making the family’s half-dozen tickets to Friday’s Gator Bowl even more valuable to them.
As for what’s made the family such loyal supporters of the Gator Bowl for so many years, Erickson said she has always felt it’s important for people to support the event, which was created to bring more visitors to town during the post-World War II slump.
“It’s been good for business for 65 years and it’s always been such an important part of Downtown,” she added.