NEW BRUNSWICK, NJ - In a year when Rutgers’ homecoming, parent and family weekend and other traditional events have been forced to go virtual, Downtown New Brunswick is providing Rutgers football fans a fun, safe environment to watch the long-awaited season opener next weekend.

New Brunswick City Center will be rolling out the proverbial red carpet for Kickoff Weekend when the Scarlet Knights take on Big Ten opponent Michigan State on Saturday, Oct. 24 at noon.

Three trucks with giant TV screens, courtesy of sponsor Miller Lite, will be parked along George Street so that Rutgers fans can get together – at a social distance - to watch Greg Schiano’s highly-anticipated return to the banks.

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George Street, which has been closed off to traffic Thursdays through Sundays to allow for outdoor dining since June, will be properly adorned with Rutgers flags. It will be the perfect setting for fans to watch the game while enjoying food and drink from the surrounding restaurants and bars.

“We want to celebrate Rutgers,” said Doug Schneider, the owner of Tavern on George. “In a year when, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Rutgers has been unable to host many of its traditional events, our downtown George Street closure enables everyone to still come together and safely celebrate the university and its football team.”

Participating Downtown New Brunswick City Center restaurants will be offering a free “Class Glass” to alumni that will be engraved with their name and graduation year, thanks to sponsor Jack Daniels.

More than 1,000 T-shirts emblazoned with the words “Love New Brunswick” – with the R and the U in Brunswick written in scarlet – will be given out that day.

The Downtown restaurant menus and drink options will also reflect Kickoff Weekend. For instance, Harvest Moon Brewery & Café has created a new beer – Knight of the Moon IPA - just for the occasion.

To make the celebration complete, there will be free great jazz music in front of Tavern on George starting on Thursday Oct. 22 at 7 p.m. when Jerry Weldon & Rutgers Jazz All Stars play.

Mike Noordzy Trio will play 12:30-3:30 on Friday, Oct. 23. On Sunday, Oct. 25, Dave Mosko & Rutgers  Emerging Jazz All Stars will play from 1-4 p.m. and Lee Hogans & Rutgers Emerging Jazz All Stars will play 5-8 p.m.

Everyone is encouraged to wear scarlet and cheer on the team.

Excitement is running high among Rutgers fans with Schiano returning to the school he helped lead to six bowl game appearances over seven seasons, including the program’s first bowl victory.

Schiano, who has three nine-win campaigns and coached 16 Rutgers All-America selections, holds a 68-67 record as the Rutgers head coach, including a 56-33 mark in his last seven seasons. The 68 wins are fourth in school history, behind Frank Burns (78), Harvey Harman (74) and John Bateman (73).

“There is a lot of anticipation for this team and we just want to throw a celebration for Rutgers,” Schneider said.