Weather -- or not!
TV, radio, and internet reports discouraged fans from driving down to the stadium for the Christmas Eve game. Just days after a blizzard dumped mountains of snow, shutting down all modes of transportation to, from, and around the area, the authorities just couldn't figure out where they'd put all the snow to make room for the fans.
Unfortunately, Broncos fans listened. Thousands in this loyal and active tailgating community were either snowed in or scared off, and as a result, Bronco Country was unchacteristically quiet.
We arrived just before dawn, as we had been warned that there would be a very limited number of parking spaces available that day -- and when they were gone, they were gone!
The first in what would become a short line of vehicle waiting to enter when the lots opened, we idled in freezing morning, happy to be warm inside our cozy home on wheels.
Then we spotted these two lunatics, wandering the dark streets around the stadium wearing little more than body paint!
It turns out their crew (who they'd been planning to meet in line) had a little trouble getting the bus to start that morning and they were running behind. So Jay pulled the guys inside, poured them a couple of drinks, and tried to keep them warm until their group arrived.
They helped us pick a spot and get set up in a mostly vacant lot.
But Denver has some of the most passionate fans in the league, and soon they started pulling in. We were thrilled to see some of our friends we made in Dallas last year, including "Limo Ron" "Disco" and "Snakeman"-- who has been reborn this year as "The Bronconator"!
They put out the welcome mat and proved that nothing was going to keep them from tailgating!
We made the rounds, talking to some great fans and stopping by to shoot some jello with the Mile High Jester, who had probably made a couple thousand too many of his blue and orange treats, considering the size of this holiday crowd.
Still, everyone was in the mood to celebrate, and all over the lot Christmas trees popped up, decked with Denver's best as fans refused to let a blizzard keep them down.
One loyal group that tailgates regularly at the games, had heeded the warnings about limited parking and opted to bring the train into town for the game. The lack of a vehicle made tailgating a challenge, as you can imagine.
Undeterred, they had loaded sandwiches and chips into backpacks, and were sitting on the ground in the middle of the parking lot looking like a bunch of 3rd graders at lunch recess!
We brought them over to enjoy our comfy chairs and satellite TV. But we really won their hearts with a tasty Christmas turkey on the Keg Roaster and a cast-iron skillet brimming with golden brown stuffing. They looked at us like we were a true Christmas miracle!
When it was time to hold out Taste-off, we were honored to have our very first repeat judge on the panel. Our pal Chuck DeVorss, aka Snakeman / Bronconator, once again picked up a plate and tasted his way through entries that included chili, wings, and even mudbugs!
But the winning recipe, way up here in the Rockies, were kebobs made from mule deer. Named for their greying former frat-house dog who accompanied them to the tailgate, Pounder's K-Bobs won the Bertin Bros. the honor of Blacktop's Best!
Yes, Karen! There is a Santa Claus -- or 3!
I wanted to make sure that my Christmas wish was heard by the right guy, so I made my way around the lot telling them all -- just in case!
But at this, the final tailgate on our two season Tour-- with a beautiful day, incredible food, and memories of fans all across the league that have become fast friends, there was little I could think of to wish for.
So I raised a glass to celebrate The Tailgaters, to thank them all for their endless hospitality, and wish them a party that never ends.
See more pictures from the Denver tailgate in our Scrapbook OntheBlacktop.com!