Staff Writer

BROWNSVILLE — Moove over, chicken.

The poultry purveyors at Chick-fil-A nationwide dedicated Tuesday to their Cow Appreciation Day, offering a free entrée to customers who showed up dressed like the eatery’s bovine mascots.

Amanda Esquivel, owner of the Chick-fil-A at 3385 Boca Chica Blvd., said employees were excited for the annual giveaway. Last year, 1.8 million customers participated in Cow Appreciation Day at more than 2,200 locations, according to the company’s website.

“I think our team members are so (enthusiastic) because they see the looks on everybody’s faces,” she said. “There’s just this energy we don’t see every single day. It’s awesome.”

Outside, dozens of children crowded around an employee wearing a fuzzy cow suit, eagerly raising their hands for a high-five. Inside the store, an orderly line of people in black-spotted shirts wound through the area in front of the cash registers to place their orders for chicken sandwiches and nuggets.

Noemi Tomas, who sported a cow hat and a head-to-toe cow-patterned outfit, said she participates in Cow Appreciation Day “to have a little fun with the family.”

“It’s always friendly, and it’s always nice,” she said. “There’s just a lot of joy in it. It’s kind of like Halloween, but the cow version.”

Her sister, Rubi Tomas, sported inverse colors with white spots on a black shirt.

“You see people coming with their families, having fun,” she said.

The girls’ mom, Sylvia Tomas, said she enjoys the creativity that people put into their outfits. She took out her phone and opened her Instagram account, showing photos of the girls at Cow Appreciation Day going back to 2010.

Other customers made cow-patterned paper plate masks, wrapped themselves in spotted blankets and drew spots on their T-shirts with markers.

Diana Silguero said she made her family’s cow T-shirts Monday night in preparation for lunch at the Boca Chica Chick-fil-A. They eat at that location once or twice per week.

“We like to come here because it’s clean, and everybody is very nice. The reason Chick-fil-A does really well is because they have these types of events,” Silguero said, adding that the chain isn’t afraid to lose money in order to show customer appreciation. “You don’t see other places having big events like this.”

Rosita Rosas said she has been coming to Cow Appreciation Day with her family for four years.

“We love everything. Their service, their waiters, their cashiers are super nice — even the drive-thru,” she said. “When we pass by and see Chick-fil-A, we have to stop.”

Esquivel got Keep Brownsville Beautiful, law enforcement agencies, Gladys Porter Zoo and Home Depot involved to arrange an event in the afternoon that would include crafts and face painting.

“We wanted to bring the community together,” she said.