The smell of kitty litter permeated the air as eager Ellen fans from all areas of Georgia congregated in Callaway Plaza on a sunny Wednesday afternoon.
On Monday, Jan. 30, Ellen tweeted a cryptic message: “If you’re around @GeorgiaTech/#Atlanta area, keep your Wednesday free.” From that day until Wednesday, Tech’s campus was buzzing with talk of Ellen’s appearance on campus.
Unfortunately, Ellen was not able to physically come to Atlanta, but her devoted crew, led by spokesperson Jeannie Klisiewicz, fueled the crowd with excitement.
Fans dressed up in their various kitten costumes paired with a “bowl” according to Ellen’s tweet, in hopes of winning tickets to Super Bowl LI, featuring the Falcons vs. Patriots in Houston. Later that evening, Ellen revealed that the reason for the cat theme was in honor of Beth Stern, Howard Stern’s wife, and her fourth annual Kitten Bowl.
The costumes included elaborate full body cat costumes paired with various animals, including a real pig on a leash, and bowls made out of old syllabuses, trash cans, inflatable pools and kitty litter bins. Caroline Young, a UGA graduate, was dressed up as a dinosaur. “The cat was a prehistoric relative of the t-rex,” Young said. “We all evolved from dinosaurs right?”
Students expressed their enthusiasm for the filming of Ellen’s show on campus.
“I’m a big fan of hers,” said Christian Gabriel, third-year IE. “The fact that she can make hundreds of students dress up like kittens and bring big ol’ bowls — that’s amazing in itself, so I’m expecting something big.”
Gabriel, dressed as the Cat in the Hat, managed to make it on the show and serenade Ellen with his compelling overtures.
Towards the far corner of Callaway plaza, near the Edge building, a few players from Tech’s football team looked longingly at the crowd from a distance.
“We want to participate, but we have workouts at 4:30 p.m. when this starts,” said Ryan Rodwell, fifth-year IE and punter for the football team. “Coach Johnson wouldn’t be too thrilled if we were out here and not in there. Priorities. I wish [I could get Super Bowl tickets], but I will be watching it [the Super Bowl] from my couch.”
At about 5:30 p.m., Ellen’s crew dove into the crowd, searching for the best costumes. The most creative fans were brought to the camera and asked to compose and sing a song that explained why they should be chosen to win Super Bowl tickets.
The winner of the pair of Super Bowl tickets and two tailgate passes was a student from Kennesaw State, much to the dismay of the many Tech students in the crowd. The finalists received tickets to the Ellen show.
After an exhausting and high-energy evening, the crew wrapped up, and Klisiewicz shared her sentiments on the evening and Ellen.
“The best thing about working for Ellen is the fact that what you see is what you get,” Klisiewicz. “Ellen has a platform where she can do anything in the whole world, and the thing that she wants to do is spread the message that we should be kind to one another, and she wants to be kind to people. That’s why I love her so much.”