ADDENDUM 7/18/11: Per an email I received from the Empire Supporters Club, the walkover will no longer be involving flares on the bridge. Direct quote: “We can no longer do flares on Bridge, FBI & Homeland Security are involved, they are going to arrest people, it won’t be pretty, etc.” So while there are alternate plans to work in flare usage in other places, please take the article below as a snapshot of what once was.
“Yeah, you went to a riot last night.” – Alexandra Klasinski
Of all the traditions held by the “South Ward” – the collection of supporters groups and ultras that make up the three sections behind the south goal at Red Bull Arena – the most chaotic may be the Walkover.
What is the Walkover? Take about 200 hardcore fans. Feed them lots of beer. Give them flares and smoke bombs. And then send them over the bridge that connects Newark’s Ironbound district to Harrison, the one that empties out right near the gates of the stadium.
The whole process takes about 30 minutes – the bridge is not terribly long, but once the crowd hits the middle there’s less forward progress for a bit. There’s a constant threat of arrest for improper use of flares, the possibility of minor burns, and the air is thick with ash and smoke.
But between the chanting, the general party atmosphere, and the crackling energy of the whole thing, it is a hell of a lot of fun to be in the middle of. The traffic cops were befuddled, the cars trying to get across the bridge were more amused than pissed off, and it was a fantastic way to get pumped up before the game.
Anyone who has the time before a RBNY home game should skip Harrison and head over to Newark. Meet up with whichever supporter’s squad you want – GSS meets at MMM Bello’s, ESC at El Pastor, or the Viking Army at Catas – about an hour before kickoff.
And bring some ruckus.
ADDENDUM: Some video from “GSSDave”, who shot the walkover: