GONZALES — Folks were setting up tents Wednesday in the parking lot of the first Chick-fil-A restaurant in Gonzales, prepared to spend the night to nab a card that will get the bearer 52 free meals. 

The first 100 customers through the door when the restaurant on La. 30 opens about 5:45 a.m. Thursday will be able to pick up a free meal — a chicken sandwich, medium waffle fries and a medium drink — every week for a year.

"We're Chick-fil-A groupies," said Kim Braud, of Dutchtown, who had come with four of her friends and was relaxing in a lawn chair in front of her tent Wednesday.

Chick-fil-A has been throwing the overnight "First 100 celebrations" for its restaurants' grand openings for about 14 years, a company spokesperson said. Campers register, set up their tents, then enjoy free meals, music and prizes while waiting for the restaurant to officially open. 

The freebie meal cards are for those 18 years old and older and live in certain ZIP codes in the area of the new Chick-fil-A restaurant. Security is provided, and those camping out have access to restrooms.

Lauren Butler, of Baton Rouge, who had a tent set up at the Gonzales Chick-fil-A on Wednesday, said she's gone to four such events in the area in recent years to pick up the prized 52-free-meal card.

"It's the only camping experience I ever do," she said. 

Follow Ellyn Couvillion on Twitter, @EllynCouvillion.