Organizers of The Response were thrilled to see more than 30,000 people join them at Reliant Stadium on Saturday, but the event billed as a day for praying and fasting made some concessions for those who were too hungry to get through the seven-hour revival.
Event spokesman Eric Bearse said the stadium required that concession stands remain open, so speakers told the audience early on they were welcome to eat between worshiping. Many took the advice to heart: Long lines of people waited for the chance to buy nachos, hot dogs, smoothies and beverages in the stadium's mezzanine.
Walt Landers of San Angelo was finishing up a hot dog when The Texas Tribune approached him for an interview. He said he made a last-minute decision to drive to Houston from West Texas this morning with no idea the event included fasting.
Landers said he skipped lunch, but by 4 p.m. he couldn't resist. He was starving.
"That's the agreement I made with God earlier. I have fasted plenty of times in the past in exercising my faith," he said, adding that he believes in "giving up something up for God, so you can pursue him in a stronger way."
The Tribune found Patrick Wilson of Fort Worth sitting at a table nearby with his two daughters. The girls were eating hot dogs while their dad sipped on a large cup of Sprite.
"I'm fasting," he said, but he refused to deprive his kids. "They can't fast. They're 7 and 9!"
Sandra Cantu of Houston shared a plate of nachos with her children and their friends. She said the prayer aspect of the event was more important to her family.
"You can feel the energy in there," she said, when asked about the mood in the arena. "My husband wanted to wait [to eat], but I need to feed the kids."
Mark Miner, Gov. Rick Perry's spokesman, said he did not know if the governor had breakfast before the event started at 10am. He said the Perry resisted eating during the event, but had plans to dine in Houston afterward with event organizers.
Bearse said they were not disappointed by the attendees' decision to break the fast.
"It was certainly encouraged, but it was an individual decision for each person," he said.
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