The Mason Jar in New York City has been a staple for Gamecock fans in the area for several years, but what is going on right now is unprecedented.
With the South Carolina men's basketball team in town making a historic run in the NCAA Tournament, it's become extremely hard to find a spot to stand, much less a seat to sit in, at the Mason Jar.
"I've been in charge of this club for two years, and I have not seen demand for an event like we're going to have (this weekend)," said Lou Antonelli, the President of the New York City Gamecock Club.
The club has continued to grow over the years, and the Mason Jar has been a big part of that. A restaurant that serves southern comfort food, there is Gamecock memorabilia all over the place and more and more people are starting to hear about it.
With the Gamecocks making history in town by advancing to the Elite Eight for the first time ever, it will just get even better.
It all started on Thursday, a day before South Carolina played Baylor in the Sweet 16. Several South Carolina news outlets broadcasted live from the restaurant, as did the SportsTalk radio station. Gamecock great Alex English stopped by, and radio color analyst Casey Manning was there as well.
As the day wore on, more and more Gamecock fans arrived at the restaurant, and Antonelli became a very busy man.
As someone who lives in New York, it would be awesome just to watch the Gamecocks play in the Sweet 16 and Elite Eight. But to have your alma mater come into your backyard is something that has truly been special.
"I don't care where they're playing, it's just great that they're in the Sweet 16," Antonelli said on Thursday. "The fact that it's in our hometown is truly amazing. It's a lot of fun."
On Friday, the day of the big game against Baylor, the Mason Jar quickly filled up and there were soon people overflowing onto the sidewalk. It was an odd sight, seeing all of that Garnet and Black in New York City, and the fans witnessed a dominating 20-point win over the Bears.
As a group of Gamecock fans were walking away from the restaurant, a fellow fan in a truck started up a "Game-Cocks" cheer that quickly picked up steam. When it finished up, a local walking by said it best.
"Well, alright then!"
The people of New York City may just be noticing how faithful and exuberant the South Carolina fans are, but for those who have been to the University and supported the Gamecocks for years, nothing is surprising anymore.
The best thing about the whole situation is the older generation of fans receiving an opportunity to see the Gamecocks do something that's never been done. It had been 44 years since South Carolina won a single NCAA Tournament game. Now, in the span of less than two weeks, the Gamecocks have won three games to advance to the first Elite Eight in school history.
"It hasn't hit yet," said Glenn Swaringen, a Gamecock fan who graduated from the University in the 1970s who witnessed firsthand the Frank McGuire heyday. "It's awesome. I think New York is a Gamecock city. As Paul Finebaum said on his show this week, 'I would not bet against South Carolina.'"
There was also expected to be a large crowd to watch the South Carolina women play in the Sweet 16, and the Mason Jar will once again be packed for the Elite Eight men's game against Florida on Sunday.
**Story and photo by Kyle Heck**