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Sharon Haddock
Carlos Sanchez said it's cold and hard waiting for 24 hours but it's worth it to get a year's worth of free Chick-fil-A product.

PROVO —The thermometer read 29 degrees.

It was snowing and everything outside their tent was wet, but Morgan Titus was hoping the weather would get just a little worse.

"If it keeps up like this, more people might drop out," Titus said.

For Titus that would mean he would move up from No. 103 to among the first 100 customers in the door Thursday when the Provo Chick-fil-A opens. (At 103, he is an alternate.)

"We've paid attention when they've taken roll call and a couple of people have already left so I might get in," Titus said.

Titus was waiting with his brother Josh for one of the coveted spots on the registration list. Those in the first 100 get vouchers for a free Chick-fil-A meal every week for a year.

A student at Utah Valley University, Morgan Titus said it would be really nice to get the free food.

Carlos Sanchez said the free food is what it's all about. He and his friend Ben Perkins think it's fun hanging out, but the food is what brings them to the grand openings.

"I just really like Chick-fil-A," said Josh Titus, "but it is cold and the snow, I dunno."

The Titus brothers said management would be letting the campers inside the building for lunch, which is unusual, but most openings aren't in the middle of winter.

Daniel Leavety showed up at 5 a.m. in a cow hat and plenty of layers and is fifth in line: "Why do I come? I love the food. I do," he said.

Ashley Bell won't be camped out in the frigid Provo weather of the opening of the area's first stand-alone Chick-fil-A but not because she isn't still interested in winning a year's worth of free chicken and fries.

Her absence has more to do with being eight months pregnant.

"I camped out for a Chick-fil-A opening in California a few years ago," Bell said. "I camped out with my friends and family and we stayed up all night. It was fun and definitely memorable. Once we got our place in line we couldn't leave.

"Chick-fil-A was amazing and gave us free food throughout the night. It was something I would do again in a heartbeat."

One group of students from BYU have participated in several openings and wear customized T-shirts with the acronym "VPLCT" (Varsity Parking Lot Camping Team).

"They are huge CFA fans who come fully equipped," said Cindy Chapman, a press relations spokesman for Chick-fil-A."

Dusty Pyne, the owner of American Fork's Chick-fil-A restaurant, said he was just helping out when the city's store opened in August 2010.

He was impressed with the number of tents in the parking lot and with the people who show up to win the free food.

"We give them (the first 100 adults in line) 52 free meals. That's over $200 worth of food," Pyne said.

Terry Crook, owner of the new Provo Chick-fil-A at 484 W. Bulldog Blvd., said the most passionate customers can take up places from 6 a.m. on but must commit to staying for 24 hours.

The first 100 must register, wear a wristband, and stay in line. If any person leaves, one of the 10 alternates gets his or her position.

Crook said they'll be fed breakfast, lunch and dinner and then given a voucher for 52 Hero chicken sandwiches plus waffle fries and a drink.

He expects a steady crowd.

Atlanta-based Chick-fil-A, Inc., is a family owned and privately held restaurant company with 1,778 restaurants in 39 states and Washington, D.C.

Sharon Haddock is a professional writer with more than 35 years' experience, 17 at the Deseret News. Her personal blog is at sharonhaddock.blogspot.com. Email: haddoc@deseretnews.com