GREENVILLE - Football fans packed the center of Greenville Friday evening, getting set for East Carolina University's home opener against Appalachian State.
The rally known as "Freeboot Friday" drew thousands of people from Havelock to Holland, coming together for food, music, and of course, Pirates gear free of charge.
"There's no better way to kick off Labor Day weekend in Eastern Carolina," said ECU fan Nick Hammond. "I drove here all the way from Fayetteville. It's all about the atmosphere, the first home game. I love it, there's no better place."
All the events were in anticipation of Saturday's 12:00 p.m. game against the Mountaineers. The two teams last met in 2009, when ECU won 29 - 24. The Pirates came away with wins from their last five games against Appalachian State.
Four upcoming Freeboot Friday events are scheduled before each ECU home game: September 28, October 12, October 26 and November 2.
ECU is favored to win Saturday's game, with most people crowding downtown Greenville coming to the same consensus.
"I think it's gonna be a blowout," ECU grad student Neisha Boone said. "I don't think we're gonna let [Appalachian State] score at all."
Popular Greenville restaurants Thai 360 and Chicos Downtown provided food free of charge. The pep rally also featured a beer garden, a 34-ft. inflatable pirate ship and free purple and gold Krispy Kreme doughnuts.
Durham reggae group dub Addis performed, along with classic rock Washington band Ram Shackles.
Gates for the home game open at 10:00 a.m. Greenville Police will close part of 14th Street at 9:00 a.m.