Campers brave sub-zero temps for free chicken

The first 100 people inside Chick-fil-A on opening day will receive a year's worth of chicken sandwiches.

Dozens of mid-Missourians braved the extreme cold Wednesday night in order to win free chicken for a year from Jefferson City's newest chicken restaurant.

Nearly 100 campers set up around 40 tents outside the brand new Chick-fil-A restaurant on Missouri Boulevard, scheduled to open 6 a.m. Thursday.

However, many of the campers opted to sleep inside the store due to freezing temperatures. "There are some guys out there that inside their tents, it's above 60 degrees," said camper Matthew Markl. "I don't have a heater, though."

Markl said despite wearing two layers of thermal underwear, a t-shirt, a ski outfit, and a heavy jacket that it was too cold for his family to camp outside.

The prize for being one of the first 100 people inside the new Chick-fil-A is one year's worth of free chicken sandwiches, equaling one meal per week.

At $5.79 per meal, that's about $300 per person before tax. The store will give away about $30,000 for the promotion.

Even with the option to go inside the restaurant to sleep, many campers refused to give in. "I think it's a cop out," said camper Gerad Fox. "You know, people do what they do, but we came prepared. We are willing to fight the elements and do what we've got to do to stay warm."

Fox said that a night in the cold was completely worth the 52 meal tickets.

"Once we get those tickets in our hands, those 52 coupons, we'll have that satisfaction that hey, we braved this whole thing, we did it. We got through the night, we're good to go."

Franchise owner Tom Van Voorn said it has taken about five years to take all the steps to build the restaurant. He said he is pleased that the process is complete and that Chick-fil-A has come to Jefferson City.