By Joshua Price/Sports Editor
Hundreds of football fans waited patiently in line outside Flowers by Rita Custom Framing, near the corner of Fifth and Broad streets in downtown Gadsden, on Feb. 4 to meet, greet and get an autograph by University of Alabama football star Trent Richardson and former Bama standout Roy Upchurch.
Richardson and his entourage arrived at approximately 1:30 p.m. via H3 Hummer and was greeted by the roar of “Roll Tide! Roll Tide!” as he emerged to the cheering crowd.
Flowers by Rita annually hosts autograph sessions with famous college players, including a session with University of Alabama Heisman Trophy winner Mark Ingram in 2011.
“This year’s event was the best we’ve ever had,” Flowers by Rita co-owner Ted Moncus said. “We had hundreds of people to show up for the signing. We were afraid the weather [rain] would cause some serious problems, but everything worked out great.”
Richardson and Upchurch signed hundreds of items, ranging from footballs and caps to jerseys and photographs. The players met fans for over four hours.
“I’m a little tired, but it’s worth it,” Richardson said with a big smile on his face. “These are great fans and it’s good to be able to give back to them.”
City of Gadsden Mayor Sherman Guyton presented Richardson with a key to the city. Guyton also awarded Richardson’s mother a commemorative pen.
Moncus said the event was cancelled from an earlier date. Richardson cancelled again with less than 24 hour notice, but Moncus managed to retain the commitment.
“We worked hard to get them in here after the second cancellation,” Moncus said. “We were happy to be able to get them here for the fans and our customers.”
Flowers by Rita has served Etowah County for over 32 years in the same location at 107 South Fifth Street in Gadsden. The shop features top collegiate autographs and brand name paintings and top-of-the-line custom framing.