Bear Bryant's birthday should be honored nationwide. America still celebrates Christopher Columbus' birthday, and he didn't win any national titles the last time I checked. Bear, on the the other hand, won six.
He would be the ripe old age of 100 this year (old enough to vote and buy lottery tickets). In honor of one of the best coaches in NCAA history, I've put together an easy-to-follow guide, so that everyone -- from every state and from every plane of existence -- can remember the Bear.
The Bear Bryant birthday
First off, we're going to need some houndstooth. If you live in the South, this shouldn't be a problem. But if you're a Northerner like me, they you'll have to find a quality tailor. Houndstooth is extremely important. This is not optional. When celebrating Bear Bryant's birthday, you go all houndstooth everything. There are no exceptions. This tablecloth is a good start.
Next, no birthday is complete without a cake. You gotta have a cake. You probably know where this is going. Although I'm sure you can get some neat cakes with coach Bryant's face on it -- a three-tiered one, for example (one tier for every time he won a Coach of the Year award) -- a cake in the shape of Brynt's signature houndstooth fedora is probably a better idea. If you get the piece with a replica national title ring in it, you get to be the Bear for the rest of the day. (Every piece of cake will have a title ring, Alabama has plenty to spare.)
Next, it's time for the slideshow. Every group of friends has someone who thinks he can be a filmmaker. Or who used to do PowerPoint presentations for fun in high school in which he would always include transitions and that song from The Breakfast Club. Well, that person needs to find some really great pictures of Bear in action. Put some tasteful songs over the top. A playlist like this is always good to have. Don't forget this track:
Your guests are going to have so much fun.
Time to impress people with your Bear Bryant trivia. There is just so much to know about Bear, and not everyone can make the pilgrimage to the Bear Bryant Museum in Tuscaloosa. If you have a copy of Bear Bryant Fun Bowl, consider yourself lucky. (There are a couple available on eBay.) If you don't, make index cards with some fun facts about the coach, as well as about bears in general ... you know, to mix it up. Start with this fun list from AL.com, and craft questions like "Who said: 'I thought this must be what God looks like?'" The answer is George Blanda! See, it's fun and educational for the whole family.
Goodie bags goodie bags goodie bags. If you can find them, Bear Bryant Coke bottles are a must.
Little hat keychains and Chesterfield cigarettes (candy versions for the kids!) would be nice additions. Don't forget the plush elephants -- they're always a big hit.
And now, a reading. Don't forget to share Bear Bryant's favorite poem and your favorite coach Bryant memories around a campfire when it gets dark. You'll be stuffed, of course, from the delicious food and fun you've been having, but the reading is the best part of a Bear Bryant birthday celebration. Print out copies for everyone:
This is the beginning of a new day.
God has given me this day to use as I will.
I can waste it or use it for good.
What I do today is important as I am
exchanging a day of my life for it.
When tomorrow comes, this day will be gone forever.
Leaving something in its place I have traded for it.
I want it to be a gain, not loss -- good, not evil.
Success, not failure, in order that I shall not forget the price I paid for it.