By Ron Matz

BALTIMORE (WJZ) — They’ve been camping out for free food in Canton, but the overnight rain and cold didn’t dampen their spirits.

Ron Matz has more on a party in a parking lot and the quest for free chicken for a year.

The wait was 24 hours.  The prize: free meals for a year from Chick-fil-A for the first 100 in line.

The overnight rain didn’t seem to bother anyone.  Many in the crowd have done this all night chicken thing before.

“I’ve got one year, 52 meals, for chicken.  I’ve waited 24 hours. This is the seventh time I’ve done this,” said Azem Hanna, Andover, N.J.

“It was fun, cold and rainy.  I’ve done this three other times.  One time I was in the snow, so it was colder than this,” said Rachel Fox, Newport News, Va.

The winners went inside at 6 a.m. to claim their chicken for a year.  They get a digital card loaded with 52 free meals.

For some, it’s more than food; it’s family.

“I’m happy. It’s good friendship.  Good community.  We get to be with friends and we love it here,” said Hanna.

Store owner Amanda Butler says Canton Crossing is ready.

“We’re thrilled to start serving the community here in Canton.  We have so many residents in the area, so many businesses.  They’ve been waiting a long time.  We’re one of the only businesses here with a drive-thru so we’re expecting to serve a lot of people,” Butler said.

Packing up after the mad rush, people will remember the party in a parking lot.

“We had a dedicated crew through the rain and everything.  They stayed happy.  There were here all night.  They were raring to go first thing this morning. I’ve never seen people so excited,” said Butler.

And many are looking forward to the next big party.

“The rain wasn’t that bad.  This is my fourth or fifth one.  I’ve definitely been through a lot worse.  So this is like a cakewalk.  It’s more than worth it,” said Alessandra Hayes, Capitol Heights, Md.

There’s a Family Day scheduled at the Canton Chick-fil-A Saturday from 11 a.m. – 2 p.m.  BARCS will be having a toy drive.  Guests who bring five or more toys for pets will receive a free Chick-fil-A entree.

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