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Fighting Irish fans get ready for the Cotton Bowl

DALLAS (WNDU) — Fighting Irish fans are crawling out of the woodwork in Dallas as Notre Dame prepares to take on Clemson in the Cotton Bowl.

On Friday evening, hundreds of people celebrated at the official Notre Dame Goodyear Cotton Bowl party held at the Kay Bailey Hutchison Convention Center.

Fans were treated to a country western-style tailgate, which featured several games, including a mechanical bull, plus Tex-Mex food, and beverages. The band Chicago headlined the evening.

“It means a lot to me to be here with my husband, my brother, my dad, my cousins to celebrate my 45th birthday with the people I love, and to be here to experience all of this is incredible,” said Shannon Deyoung, of Grand Rapids, Mich.

People paid $100 for the pre-game party (kids 10 years and younger were free). The proceeds will help Notre Dame students who qualify for financial aid.

Earlier in the day, a group of Notre Dame seniors described the excitement of making a bucket list trip, which was questionable when the season started for John Kochevar.

“I wasn’t so sure, especially after sophomore year. We had a pretty rough season there, going 4-8 — excited to be back, bounce back and be here today,” said Kochevar, a senior from Saint Paul, Minnesota.

Meanwhile, the Simons, of Memphis, Tennessee, are pumped to make a trip back to Dallas, where the family used to live. Craig is a Notre Dame grad while his wife is an alum of Saint Mary’s College. Their son thinks the Fighting Irish will come out on top at the Cotton Bowl.

“I mean, we’ve been underdogs, underdogs all season pretty much, I would say. No one ever really picking us (to win) after some bad losses in bowl games in the past,” Matthew Simon said. “But I think this year’s different, and I think we’ll get the win.”

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