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Rutgers Tailgater of the Week: Purdue Edition!

This week’s tailgaters are Rutgers alums and family, tailgating for almost 30 years!

It was an unseasonably warm and sunny day on October 21. As a result, the tailgating weather was perfect. For Homecoming. That’s never a guarantee. After all, there have been times in October when the weather was not what we would call optimal for tailgating.

October 29, 2011- Playing West Virginia, and not the best weather for tailgating, but we were there!
Photo Courtesy of Eric J Browne

Yes, the photo above is NOT Valley Forge, it’s an actual photo of the Scarlet lot that snowy day six years ago, and it shows the fortitude and loyalty of the tailgaters for Rutgers football.

In any case, October 2017 has been FAR milder, and we had a great day to welcome Purdue to the historic confines of Rutgers for the first time. The group we chose as the tailgaters to recognize this year are habitants of the Yellow Lot, and have been tailgating together since the group graduated from Rutgers back in 1985 and 1986. Many of the core group were also members of the Chi Phi fraternity while at Rutgers. I got to speak to Glenn Marum, who was designated as the spokesperson of this group. He told me about 20-30 attend each game as part of their group. They’ve upgraded their equipment from their early days, and are glad that they now have nicer things with them and they’re also happy the food has definitely gotten better. Several of the group noted that the age of their fellow tailgaters has aged along with them. That’s not surprising, as the number of points earned that are needed to tailgate in the Yellow Lot has made being there more of a challenge in recent years.

Since this has been greater-than 30 year affair, it was also noted that they have gone from just the graduates and their significant others attending, to bringing children along, to their children being off to college. Now it is mainly the alums and their partners again. Ah, the circle of life...

One of the more interesting aspects is the home-made tables. They are similar to bar tables, in that you can stand at them, and are octagon shaped so you can have several at each one. They also a charging station, so you can attach your smartphone to them and charge up with the battery pack built into the base.

Here you can see them using one of the tables for charging as well as food.

These tables break down easily for storing, too. Glenn demonstrated by pulling out his cordless drill and taking it apart in no time at all. Here’s a short video to show how easy they made it!

A fun aspect of this tailgate is the custom playlist based upon the week’s opponent. Since this was against Purdue, state of Indiana-or-Purdue-based music filled the air, with songs by the Jackson 5, John Mellencamp, even songs like Gary Indiana (from The Music Man) and Train (for the Boilermakers) on the list. OK, so some are a stretch, but it’s a great aspect of their tailgate.

They’ve been doing this long enough that they have reached another milestone in their tailgating career. Another member of the crew, Paul Neiheiser introduced me to the tailgate “legacy” in the form of his daughter Sarah, a 2016 graduate who along with her boyfriend Ahmed Farad, who also graduated in ‘16. They have now joined the tailgate that now encompasses multiple generations of alumni. Congratulations to the great group of tailgaters!

Paul, along with his daughter Sarah (r) and her boyfriend Ahmed (l)


While not tailgaters of the week, there was another group in the Yellow Lot that deserve to be noted. This group, who call themselves the Scarlet Party, decided to use their time tailgating to raise awareness as well as have a good time. Anyone who was going into the stadium from the Blue, Purple, Black, and Light Blue lots would have walked by their tailgate, which they strategically place each week along Scarlet Knight Way as you walk to the stadium from those lots.

I got to speak to Donna Canavan, who was the Scarlet Party’s quarterback this past week. The quarterback is responsible for the theme of the tailgate. Donna chose to focus on Breast Cancer Awareness through several great ideas and displays. She decided on this, and it fit the bill perfectly since Rutgers has also announced their push to focus on this issue as well along with RWJ Barnabas Health Care. The Scarlet Party’s displays included white pumpkins adorned with painted pink awareness ribbons,

to an entire line of bras clipped to a clothesline. These were donated by women in Westfield after Donna posted the request on the group’s Facebook page.

They even had their own photo booth, where young fans could dress up in costumes, and take their picture along with a character for a donation. The proceeds from this went to and RWJ Barnabas. The funds to RWJ Barnabas was collected by Rutgers Athletics at the end of the day.

Donna’s daughter is a sophomore at Rutgers, and the group is a close family of tailgaters. This is just a great event to support a wonderful cause, and they deserve the recognition for the great work they are doing to help.

But Wait, There’s More...

As those who attended the game were able to see at halftime, high school band students from around the state were welcomed to join the Marching Scarlet Knights this past weekend, and many joined them. These events don’t happen magically, and many hours of practice and preparation take place before you see the final product. Below, students from Ramapo Regional High School and Perth Amboy High School are headed to the stadium about three hours before game time to begin their preparation.

Ramapo RHS Students headed to HPSS
Students from Perth Amboy HS heading to prepare for halftime

Speaking of the band, the drum line continues to visit the tailgating lots, and they always draw a crowd of admirers. This is around 9:00 AM right in the middle of Scarlet Knight Way...

Some Purdue fans were there as well. One of the best things about the Big Ten is they are famously fans who travel well, so there are always opposing fans there. I will say they are also among the nicest opposition fans I have encountered, though most are great guests. Our colleagues at Hammer And Rails had nice things to say about Rutgers fans as well.

Megg Sherman is a well-known name among tailgaters, donors, staff, and even coaches and players. So I guess it is appropriate that her husband J.D. presented this sash and tiara for her to wear this weekend. I do have to add, however, that this is not an official Rutgers designation, it is solely self-declared!

Another item that I thought were worth sharing included a home-made candelabra (complete with LED lights for the candles and inside the bottle) from the Yellow lot. Bob and Pat Stevenson, are the proud owners of the candelabra. Bob’s a wood shop teacher at Parsippany Hills High School, so of course he crafted the item, with support from Pat.

And Jay Harris, who showed up in the additions portion of our Morgan State tailgate, is back with one of the more interesting Scarlet Knight wigs I have seen. So, Jay, you’re the first “two-fer” this year as a Tailgater.

Finally, while not technically tailgaters, it was great to see families of players at the game. Sitting right near me in section 128 was quarterback Gio Rescigno’s family, and they were happy to show their Rutgers spirit for the game.

So, a lot of interesting things this week to share, I hope you all enjoyed them. We have a gift, courtesy of the Yankees and how unexpectedly deep they went into the American League Playoffs this year- an extra tailgate! As a result of the move back to campus for the Maryland football/wrestling event, I’ll be sharing an extra tailgater of the week following the November 4 happening at Rutgers. Who knows, perhaps we will have some wrestling tailgaters!