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Rutgers Tailgater of the Week: Penn State 2018 Edition

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Our final tailgater of the week for the season had multiple awards this week!

It is disappointing to realize that others besides On the Banks choose a tailgater of the week each season. Of course, theirs are not as important as this designation (don’t you roll your eyes at me!), but nonetheless, it happens. The odd one here is that this week’s designee was also chosen by another group.

I was sitting in the stands on Saturday and suddenly I see on the screen that Miller Lite’s Tailgater of the Week was The Pickled Knights! Well, isn’t that just great. I had spent a good portion of the morning interacting with that group as well, and they are also the On the Banks’ Tailgater of the Week, a much more exalted designation!!!

From Left: Mugsy, George, and Jim

Despite the odd coincidence, they really are a great group, based in the Green Lot. They are led by a four great guys, Jim McIntosh, Bob “Mugsy” Abramski, Big John, and George Cichon. While there is a core group of nine, between 40 and 60 people gather with them at each game, and the logistics for food, drink and themes are developed by them. Mugsy is the chef, he takes are of the cooked food, grills, and stoves. Jim takes care of all of the liquid beverages, from coffee, soft drinks, as well as the bar and anything else that is decided upon for a particular game. The standing rule for everyone is that each person chips in $20 for food, and bring any beverages you want to have as well as a little bit extra for the friends that you’re going to make at the tailgate. A good rule for life in general, or so it seems.

George began tailgating at games in 1986 and began the Pickled Knights in 2001. Jim and Mugsy joined up with him in 2008. Back then, they were in the Scarlet Lot. Five seasons ago, when Rutgers entered the Big Ten, they moved back to the Green Lot, then to Yellow, but are back in Green once more. Despite the moving around, they have stayed together through it all.

One of the interesting things that this group does is signs. They are produced by a local firm, and they are reflective of issues of importance to the group. In the Green Lot, an issue this season was a snow fence that was erected in the front of the lot, blocking easy access to exiting the lot when leaving the lot at the end of games. So, a couple of signs directed to Rutgers Athletic Director Pat Hobbs were posted asking that the fence be removed, using historic references, such as a paraphrase of the famous line of Ronald Reagan, “Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall,” referencing the Berlin Wall. Their sign reads, “Mr. Hobbs, tear down this fence!”

Another interesting tradition is called “Shot Time.” Several times prior to the game, the group passes out different types of flavored shots, led by the friendly and always social Sondra, Jim’s wife. They are sometimes Apple Pie shots, sometimes their signature Pickled shot, and others too numerous to mention. They distribute them to all of the participating members as well as surrounding groups. Then on a megaphone, someone says, “What time is it?” The group answers, “It’s Shot Time! Go RU!” and everyone finishes the drink together.

Sondra and Big John with Sondra’s all-important shot tray!

The core group is relatively local to Rutgers, coming mainly from Sayreville and Manville. No matter the time of the game, they arrive at the lot to tailgate at 6:00 AM, rain, snow, or wind notwithstanding. As guests continue to come and go through the day, the Pickled Knights tailgate continues throughout the game, and they like to say they are the first to arrive and the last to leave. So, congratulations to The Pickled Knights, our last tailgate of the season!

Additions

I couldn’t end this article without a follow-up to the group we shared with you last week. Sweet Lou’s Barbecue and Tailgate were our Tailgaters of the Week for the Michigan game, and they had a pretty unusual event that occurred this past Saturday.

That’s right, a proposal, and right in the middle of the Blue Lot. John Groff used the opportunity at the tailgate to propose to his girlfriend Taylor Kaminsky. Pretty exciting stuff, and not something that happens at every game, that’s for sure! However, it was obvious that Mom (AKA Megg Sherman) knew it was coming, and prepared a bit...

Photo by Megg Sherman

In any case, congratulations to the happy couple, and we wish you many years of happiness!

John Groff and Taylor Kaminsky after the proposal look happy, hough they also look a little overwhelmed!
Photo by Megg Sherman

I always like to include pictures of great groups. One group in the Green Lot used the game as an opportunity for a reunion of sorts. A group of friends who grew up in Trenton have scattered across the Tri-State area, but are using Rutgers football as an annual opportunity to meet up again. This is their third year that they have been getting together this way, and each year the group from Trenton increases. They are both Rutgers and Penn State fans, but friendship can even overcome that barrier. Here’s a picture of them at the game last week. I hope their reunions continue for a long time to come.

From Left: Mark, Jim, Chris, Jill, and Mike getting together at their annual reunion at a Rutgers game.

This concludes out final Tailgater of the Week article for 2018. I hope you all enjoy reading these as much as I do sharing them with you. I don’t know about you, but I’m already thinking about the tailgate for the UMass game on August 31, 2019. See you at the game!