KNOXVILLE - Tennesseans have demonstrated a true volunteer spirit before and after Hurricane Irma ravaged parts of Florida. Many have sent aid to Florida while others welcomed evacuees escaping the storm.
Last week, Deane Hill Place assisted living facility welcomed around 30 evacuees from a senior center in Inverness, Florida.
"It [Hurricane Irma] was a big enough concern for them to get on a greyhound bus and ride 13 hours to get to Tennessee. And we know Florida and Tennessee fan don't always get along, but so far we are getting along very well," joked Elisabeth McGhee, executive director of Deane Hill Place.
Now that the rivalry football game between Tennessee and Florida is definitely on this weekend in Gainesville, some signs of normalcy are returning with a bit of good-natured "gator hater" fun between fans.
Fans online were giving each other plenty of grief. One Tennessee fan joked Irma caused millions of dollars in improvements to Gainesville while Gator fans post photoshopped images of head coach Butch Jones in UT's sideline turnover trash can. It is all in good fun for two fan bases that love to hate each other.
Dozens of restaurants are serving up hatred with various alligator recipes.
This is the third year Hard Knox Pizzeria is selling a "Gator Hater" pizza with white sauce, fresh mozzarella, smoked alligator, sweet corn, roasted red peppers, and a Cajun aioli.
"It's spicy with a smokey flavor. It's really good. We usually sell 70 or so the week of the Florida game," said Adam Isabell, kitchen manager at Hard Knox Pizzeria.
Isabell said he's personally fired up for the game and is hoping to savor a second straight victory over Florida and the first win in Gainesville since 2003.
"Why do I hate the Gators so much? Because I was raised to. I bleed orange, so I'm supposed to hate the Gators and I do," said Isabell. "It'll be a really tough game, but hopefully the Vols can win."
The Shrimp Dock and Bayou Bay in Knoxville will likely sell their typical tons of fresh gator meat this week.
The week of the Florida game also does some good for a Knoxville charity. This is the 13th annual Gator Hator week full of events around Knoxville with proceeds benefiting the Love Kitchen. More information on the events is available at the gatorhator.com website.
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