Accompanied by the rasp of a snare drum and clang of a cow bell, a wall-to-wall crowd swathed in red, white and blue sang and danced for the one event, it is said, for which nearly all the world stops.
As the U.S. beat Ghana, 2-1, in Brazil in its opening match Monday of the World Cup, the Fort Myers chapter of the U.S. team’s nationwide fan group, the American Outlaws, turned the downstairs of Tilted Kilt into its own sweltering, boisterous celebration.
“This,” hostess Kaity Rogers, 17, a Fort Myers High School student, said of the bar’s most fun crowd since its March opening. “Occasionally we get customers who have Lamborghini’s and stuff and we get to take pictures with them. … It’s just the vibe.”
The mass gathering of more than 400, which forced owners to stop admitting revelers to enter during the first half because of overcrowding, wasn’t the only sign of America’s growing embrace of the globe’s most-popular sport.
Eight years ago, Fort Myers resident Cameron Siggs said he had to beg another area sports bar to tune just one TV to the World Cup to watch the U.S. play. Not so Monday.
“We drove by that same (bar). It was slammed with people all in red, white and blue,” said Siggs, 31, among hundreds in Tilted Kilt with U.S. jerseys. “This is different. This is amazing.
“It,” Siggs said of efforts to grow the game in the U.S., “has worked.”