The parking lot looked a bit like an airport terminal as the "First 100" waited outside the area's newest Chick-fil-A Wednesday morning in Lombard.
Chicken sandwich fans were browsing the Internet on iPads, playing card games, texting, reading magazines and idly chatting while waiting, not for an airplane, but for a year's supply of free food coupons to be handed out at 6 a.m. today.
A crowd of families with kids on spring break and business people with days off gathered at 6 a.m. Wednesday to be among the "First 100" who will be rewarded with 52 free meal certificates for spending 24 hours waiting outside the store prior to the restaurant's opening.
Meloyne Wimbley of Aurora said she was excited to attend her third Chick-fil-A opening with her 10-year-old twins and her friend Deeda Dixon of St. Louis.
After first experiencing Chick-fil-A when the Aurora location opened in September 2010, Wimbley said she attended grand openings in Schaumburg and Chicago, receiving free meal certificates both times.
"I share with all my neighbors, especially if they've never been," Wimbley said. "I took my Bible study group before and they were like 'How are you paying for all this?' They didn't know I had coupons."
Dixon said she was hoping for coupons to buy her Chick-fil-A favorites.
"Waffle fries are the bomb, and I love the original chicken sandwich," she said. "It's so good."
The restaurant gave out 110 numbered wristbands Wednesday, creating alternates in case some of the first 100 people leave. Each participant also was allowed guests without wristbands.
Mark and Janel Kutrieb of Merrilville, Ind., had wristbands numbered 10 and 51, and said they liked their odds of scoring free food. When Chick-fil-A opened in their hometown, they took their five kids and camped out in anticipation of coupons, but weren't chosen in a raffle necessary because the crowd numbered more than 110, Janel said.
Many in the crowd passed the time by setting up tents and tossing around footballs. Chick-fil-A also planned an evening dance party to top off the tailgate.
Once the free meal certificates are handed out this morning, the restaurant will be open for business, at 6:30 a.m. at 717 East Butterfield Road in Lombard.