GRAND RAPIDS (WZZM) -- Thousands of people have left West and Central Michigan for the warmth of southern California and Wednesday's Rose Bowl game. Many of them passed through Ford Airport Monday, including the Slayton family of Hamilton.
Mark and Jennifer met as MSU students. They wanted to go to MSU's last appearance in Pasadena in 1988, but the newlyweds couldn't afford to. A career and three children later, the Slaytons headed west to cheer on their Spartans.
"He said (then) 'next time we're going,' and we didn't think there was going to be a next time-- every year he's like 'this is the year this is the year'... but this year really was the year!" said Jennifer Slayton.
Also bringing his family to California was Octavis Long. For Long, this was an especially sentimental and pride-filled journey. A 1997 MSU grad, Long played wide receiver for the Spartans and played in several bowl games, but never in Pasadena.
"It's really special because as a player coming in exactly 20 years ago, you aspire to get to the Rose Bowl as a player yourself. We came up short, our particular class. But just to see what coach D'Antonio has done... I didn't really think a Rose Bowl was realistic, but they stuck it out and persevered and played their game and believed in themselves and look at us today," Long said.