The Sherman Bearcats and Denison Yellow Jackets kicked off their football seasons Friday with big tailgating celebrations that got the community excited for the local high school teams. Fans gathered to enjoy food, games and activities as well as show their support for the districts.

The Bearcats and Yellow Jackets began their events two hours before the start time for the games with Denison’s tailgate party located near the stadium at Forest Park and Sherman’s on the Municipal Lawn across from Bearcat Stadium.

“This has been a long time tradition in the district for the first game,” Sherman Independent School District Superintendent David Hicks said. “We are going to expand it this year to include something like this for every home game with food vendors and food trucks. We are trying to create a family atmosphere where people can come celebrate our kids and the Bearcats and come in and cheer.”

Hicks said the high school’s Parent Teacher Association sponsored the event and Sherman raffled off tickets to win a sideline pass to the Battle of the Axe. Other activities included face painting and corn-hole games. In Denison, vendors sold noisemakers and spirit clothing while fans enjoyed food and threw footballs.

Tasha Mitchell with Moore Pretty Things in Denison was there to promote her spirit-wear and support her daughter.

“I make bling T-shirts,” Mitchell said. “I do it for football, the church, the community and it’s fun. So I set up every year and I do great every year. The locals support me, which is awesome. I really enjoy doing it. My daughter is a freshman and a varsity cheerleader. This is her first year. That’s exciting. We have been season ticket holders for five years. We will do this until I can’t do it anymore.”

Jim and Michelle Yerger said they attended Sherman’s event in order to show their support as part of the community.

“We wanted to support the band, PTA and the Bearcats,” Jim Yerger said. “Our son is in 10th grade at Sherman High School. And I was in band myself.”

Vicki Oliver was in attendance at Denison’s event in order to show her support for her grandchildren.

“We’re here for two reasons,” Oliver said. “My grandson is a sophomore and on the varsity team. And his sister is a senior this year and she is here for senior night. She’s in color guard so she’s also here for that. She’s the Sweetheart for the color guard. We have seats this year so we don’t have to sit on the benches. So this will be an exciting year.”

Hicks said these events are designed to bring the community together.

“The whole community comes out when the football team runs through a spirit tunnel,” Hicks said. “They cheer them on and sing the National Anthem and school fight song. And then the families can enjoy dinner together and go watch the game.”

Kindergarten teacher at Terrell Elementary kindergarten teacher Tina Burnham said, in addition to being a teacher with the Denison Independent School District, she is a diehard Yellow Jackets fan.

“I’m born and raised in Denison,” Burnham said. “My son is in high school on the tennis team and in the band. We love the Yellow Jackets. I’m meeting my sister here and I’m about to go pick up my 82-year-old mom. She is also a through and through Yellow Jacket fan. We have season tickets.”