Patriots fans know how to do tailgating right. Hardcore Pats fans know that not everything is about the game. Game day is really about the whole experience. Sure, fans could just sit in the comfort of their own climate-controlled home instead of bothering to set up a grill and an elaborate buffet. But to these fans, it’s about having fun and both pre-game and post-game tailgates are a huge part of that. Tailgating is a long-standing American tradition and to these legendary Patriots fans, it’s much, much more.
For the past 16 years, Mike Coty has been traveling to Gillette Stadium all the way from his home in Gardiner, Maine. For some games, he has to leave as early as 5 a.m., but he’s come a long way from his first tailgate in 1996 when he drove by car. Now, this legendary tailgater has yellow goalposts sticking out of his pickup truck and a six-foot inflatable Patriots player standing on top of the truck bed. Coty remembered the first time he set up the homemade goalpost in 1998, now his fourth set since the previous three broke at one point or another, proclaiming other tailgaters had gathered in crowds to take pictures of his get-up and ask questions. He comes prepared with food, too, making a variety of dishes each time such as meatballs, chili and sometimes lobster.
With a synchronized setup and a staged order on the grill, Mike Young has dubbed his tailgating crew the Tailgater 2000 for more than 30 years. This crew’s setup is centered around Young’s bus, the “tailgaterV2,” which they say has been transformed into the ultimate Patriots machine. The bus features a 46-inch flatscreen television embedded into the wall inside and several amplifiers. Outside, Young has a 42-inch television under the tent and a 21-inch television near the two grills for the cooks. “Reverend” Gerry McCarthy says they’re the entertainment for all of the other tailgaters. Every game day, he stands on top of the bus leading over 100 people in the team prayer. This crew has come a long way since bringing just a few people in a pickup truck.
For 13 years, Billy Burrows has been traveling to Gillette Stadium with his crew of Lenny Macleod, Fred Macleod and Kevin Callahan. They also travel to the Patriots vs. Dolphins game every year, since Burrows’ son lives in the area. These guys have become pretty legendary due to their unique Hot Rod Grill that resembles a car engine. Burrows says they cook anything and everything on the grill. Most recently, Burrows and his crew were featured in Pepsi’s New England Patriots Anthems commercial.
What started out as roughly four people has turned into more than 100 hardcore Patriots tailgaters. Chef Marty O’Shea has been coming to Gillette Stadium for more than 10 years now grilling up lobster crab cakes, sausage and peppers, pulled pork, chili and barbecue chicken legs, just to name a few items off the menu.
Kathy Hall and her crew have travelled to every single game at Gillette Stadium for seven years, no matter the weather. She says they’re hardy New Englanders and they’re always prepared. Every week, her crew of roughly 10 people bring a big variety of food items. Like many other Pats fans, they’re into tailgating for the fun of it. Hall explained how tailgating is like a camaraderie. She described how connected everyone in the tailgating world is. She comments, “it’s like bringing your living room and your kitchen to a parking lot.”
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Victoria Myers is a freelance writer covering all things Boston. Her work can be found on Examiner.com.