Football fans enjoy a tailgate party at Quebec and Terminal, prior to the BC Lions game in Vancouver on November 18, 2012.
Photograph by: Wayne Leidenfrost, PNG
VANCOUVER — Tailgaters from across the province poured onto a patch of asphalt near BC Place Stadium on Sunday to cook chili, drink beer and rev up for the CFL’s West Division Final showdown between the B.C. Lions and Calgary Stampeders.
“Tailgating is a football pastime,” said Brian Wawryshyn, who organizes the weekly tailgates and runs the popular B.C. Lions Den blog. “It’s just all about the fellowship, the community, the coming together.”
“I’ve been to lots of lousy football games. I’ve never been to a lousy tailgate,” said Paul Hendrickson, cooking sausages on a miniature grill in the EasyPark lot at Quebec Street and Terminal Avenue.
“It’s a chance to share, have fun with friends and cheer on your team.”
“Go, Lions, Go!” shouted his son Thomas.
Tailgaters in black caps and orange scarves huddled under canvas canopies, fanning outward from one end of the lot where a 42-inch LCD screen issued football via satellite dish — all generator-powered — from the trunk of a Dodge Caravan.
Brian Scarr, who owns the equipment, has been tailgating in the area for 15 years. “We just come out here to watch football, rain or shine,” he said, just before the wind bowled over a tent top.
Propane barbecues and hot plates sizzling with hot dogs and pancakes added heat to the seven-degree chill. “We’ve got everything from French toast to gourmet sausage to flank steak and eggs,” said Tracy Scott, who drove in from Kelowna this weekend.
Several pickup trucks away, Mandeep Dhaliwal stirred a cauldron of bakhra — curried goat meat — surrounded by friends munching on naan bread and tandoori chicken.
“I love the atmosphere. Everyone’s just getting rowdy. The chants are getting going about now,” said the Williams Lake native, who recently moved to Surrey.
Kevin McHady, decked out in a “Canadian tuxedo” of denim pants and a jean jacket, complete with fake fur collar, has been coming from Campbell River to Vancouver to tailgate since 1984.
“We used to go down to the parking lot by the old BC Place Stadium, but they don’t let you do that anymore,” said the heavy duty mechanic, who’s made the day-long trek to the mainland six times this football season.
On the ferry this morning, his wife Debbie dolloped orange and black makeup on many of the scores of Lions fans on board.
Meanwhile, Chris Burnett boarded a charter bus at Horseshoe Bay along with roughly 50 other Nanaimo-area tailgaters early Sunday. They paid $76 for the ride, food and a ticket to the game. White Rock resident Brian Kohlen, or “B.K.,” has been arranging the deal for seven years.
“They marched in like an orange army today,” he said.
Kohlen, a season ticket holder who, like many of the tailgaters on hand Sunday, would be flying to Toronto for the Grey Cup on Nov. 25, had painted orange stripes around the rim of his RV. Even his plastic utensils and paper plates, now employed by the lunching Nanaimo visitors, were orange.
“It really is a family,” he said, pointing to a bystander’s orange-rimmed glasses matching his wife’s orange fan hoop earrings and orange shoelaces.
Social media has enhanced that football family in recent years.
Belinda Mitchell, Connie Fekete and Rob Aharra, who flew in from Calgary on Sunday morning, met tailgate organizer Brian Wawryshyn over Twitter several years ago, prompting their first Vancouver tailgate.
“Twitter is the connection for a lot of people,” Fekete said.
Thanks in part to social media, the three of them were able to meet up with tailgating football fans in Edmonton, Hamilton, Ontario, and Moncton, New Brunswick, earlier this year. Fekete said that in the past three years they’ve been to every CFL stadium. Of course, they’ll be heading to Toronto for the championship.
“I leave Monday,” said Aharra.
I leave Wednesday,” Fekete chimed in.
As venison smoked and orange-and-black wigs rustled in the wind, Lions fan Susan Firbank sized up the parking lot zeitgeist.
“A lot of people call it a fellowship,” she said. “Is that too strong a word?
“I don’t think so.”
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