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Tailgater of the Week- Howard Edition

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Joe Merritt (Class of 2011) poses in the photo booth at the Finklestein/Smith tailgate

Our first-ever choice for On the Banks’ Tailgater of the Week was a great group of alums and fans who are Blue Lot faithful for many years. In fact, how does 36 years sound? I know, I was impressed too.

The stalwarts of this tailgate are the Finkelstein and Smith families. Brad and Karen Finkelstein and Robert and Judy Smith are the founders of this particular group. Brad and Karen are also owners (thanks to winning it at the spring game) a maniquin wearing a full 2015-vintage Rutgers football uniform, which now also travels to each game, among other things. Brad has admitted it is an odd addition at home (he has been startled more than once by seeing a figure in the corner at 5:00 AM at home), but it is a pretty cool addition to the tailgate.

The additional guest at their tailgate
Photo by Bill Shaughnessy

Of course, it is necessary at multi-family tailgates to have someone guarding the premises, and Brad and Robert have the perfect guard for a Rutgers Tailgate, of course. Smartly, their Knight is stationed next to Robert, who mans the bar. They know to protect their investment there!

Photo by Bill Shaughnessy

Most tailgates have a theme. With this group, the families are Rutgers grads, going into the second generation. Older daughter Rachel was a member of the Rutgers dance team until her graduation this past year, but her sister Zoe is a sophomore. However, there is no chance that you’ll miss the connection when you see their set-up. It is emblazoned for all to see:

Photo by Bill Shaughnessy

As all tailgaters know, the cheer and dance groups travel through the tailgates, selling tickets for the 50/50 prior to all home games, and this was no exception. Sis got to stop by for a visit as well, her tablet in hand.

Photo by Bill Shaughnessy

When Brad and Robert graduated from Rutgers, they began their years-long tailgating experience. After marriage, it didn’t stop, Brad’s wife Karen, and Robert’s wife Judy joined right in on the fun, and have continued until this day.

As time went on, other have joined them, so it is a rather large group that meets up around 5:30 am to get to the Blue Lot by 7:00. Among the things they have is their own photo booth, where they have props for pictures to be taken at each tailgate and printed immediately for friends and visitors. The photo of Joe Merritt at the top of the page is one taken at their photo booth.

As stated earlier, Robert mans the bar at this tailgate, and they have a great tradition. They create a cocktail named after their opponent of the week. As usual, their Bison-themed cocktail was a delicious concoction.

Additional members of the tailgate crew enjoying the fun.
Photo by Bill Shaughnessy

All in all, the Finkelstein/Smith tailgate is a great time. Obviously, they have fun with reconnecting, but they have great loyalties to Rutgers, which now spans multiple generations. Congratualtions on winning the first-ever Tailgater of the Week Award from On the Banks!

Robert (l) and Brad (r) receiving their certificate from Jim Hoffman.
Photo by Bill Shaughnessy