Chick-fil-A Northridge Turns Into Tent City for Free Chicken

Chicken lovers settle in for a long, cold night in Northridge

"Occupy Northridge" isn't about ending wars or taxing the rich. This encampment is patiently waiting for free chicken.

A new Chick-fil-A restaurant is scheduled to open Thursday in Northridge, and 36 tents are already set up outside 8875 Tampa Ave. The chain celebrates each new opening with a free year's supply of Chick-fil-A food for the first 100 customers in line.

"The economy is bad so it's kind of cool," says Rob Ibelle, who camped out for free chicken. "It's a neat thing that Chick-fil-A does."

"These vouchers, the box is worth like $350, with the tax and everything," said Dennis Malone from Costa Mesa who has waited for the deal 18 times. ""It's just fantastic."

At 6 a.m., Chick-fil-A reps handed out 110 wristbands, purposefully overbooking the contest, with the assumption at least 10 people won't make it through the night. Overnight lows will be in the high 40s.

Campers need to stay on the property until 6 a.m. Thursday when the restaurant opens.

To prevent occupiers from scoring a wristband and then returning just in time for free chicken, restaurant officials do random wristband checks throughout the day. Also, to ensure everyone is a happy camper, the restaurant is giving away free lunch and dinner.

Ages at the encampment range from 18 to 72 years old. For one Northridge camper, this is his 20th grand opening.

The last LA location to open, located at the corner of Highland Avenue and Sunset Boulevard in Hollywood, saw a similar tent city.

Loyal customers often come equipped with couches, TVs and other gear, according to the chain. During the Hollywood opening, patient chicken fans passed the time with playing cards, games and of course, dancing.

At Northridge, chicken lovers were jumping rope and practicing yoga. Starting at 5 p.m., a DJ will perform at the encampment.

Chick-fil-A currently operates 44 locations in California, although entry to Los Angeles has been recent. The downtown location opened last year. The Hollywood location opened in September.

"Love camping out, I will never give it up," vows Monique Hampton, " and no, we're not crazy. We're just raving fans."

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