#13 of 31: O.co Coliseum
Oakland, California

December 16, 2012


O.co Coliseum, Oakland, CaliforniaThe Oakland Raiders may have been Stadium #13 for us, and our third try to tailgate with these fans was almost the charm.

First we had to get to the game...

Hurricane Sandy kept me on the East Coast, so we failed in our first try - back in early November. The next home game attempt featured 10 inches of rain, flooding, minor mudslides,  and an overturned tractor trailer just past the The Caldecott Tunnel, north of Oakland between us and the game. (We were staying about 50 miles away in Oakley, CA.) No way, Jose, could we overcome all those obstacles.

Finally, this past Sunday we made it! Go Raiders!


O.co Coliseum, Oakland, California



While told the day before we could come in the main gates and park, on game day we were not allowed to enter. The RV Lot only accepted season passes that had been purchased in advance (No Cash). Sadly, with our windows filled with pictures of the other stadiums where we and our camper had been part of the action, we parked on a nearby side-street (homeless people were living in some of the cars parked about). Our first failure, and here, in Oakland where, until a shooting a few years ago, the festivities began on Friday night.

Leaving Sully on patrol, we walked to the stadium parking lots.

While the Raiders are not having a great season, they are, “Undefeated in the Parking Lot!”  The air is filled with the smell of savory slabs of beef and pork grilling, the music is loud and fun... but it is the outfits that set this crowd apart from all others.

O.co Coliseum, Oakland, California

It is obvious that little Raider girls sit in their mother’s laps and learn the art of “silver face-painting” and young lads learn the secrets of how a guy wears bling and applies spikes to himself. This probably happens at the same time the kid is throwing the pigskin around in the back yard with Dad.



O.co Coliseum, Oakland, California

The football fashion police point with pride to the Raider fans... everyone of them was happily attired in black and silver. (I felt right at home.) The only discordant notes were supplied by a lone (very brave) Chiefs’ fan and one Dolphins’ fan (who was part of a private party).

O.co Coliseum, Oakland, CaliforniaWe have seen plenty of face paint and fun outfits as we tailgate around the country, but some of the corresponding icons of Raider Nation have created a very bizarre, fun-filled world. They paint really scary things on themselves and dress as monsters, devils, beasts... their bodies covered with bones, hair, armor and pointy things. When a camera comes close, they gladly crouch, snarl, or stick out their tongues and point.



O.co Coliseum, Oakland, California

I suppose becoming these team icons and mascots should be considered normal for fans of a team whose players have had nicknames like: “Snake.” “The Mad Bomber.” “Dr. Death.” My personal favorite is former Coach Jon Gruden’s nick name. “Chucky,” and yes, he looked just like the little horror doll standing on the sidelines when the Raiders was losing.

With all the work that goes into creating the costumes and their endless energy entertaining the fans on gameday, one wonders if these fantastically attired icons have real jobs the rest of the time. Are they lawyers, dentists, mechanics, school teachers, air traffic controllers??? Or do they just hibernate between games?

In spite of the their scary costumes they were all hospitable and generously posed for pictures with the multitude of fans and their kids that clamored around them all day.

Former Raiders were also in the lots signing autographs and answering questions.

Recently, I have noticed an increasing trend towards the large, cordoned off, pay-to-attend tailgating party experience instead of a potluck affair among friends and neighbors. Lots of tailgating seems to have become sort of a restaurant-for-a-day event... a Mobile Sports Bar.  The Bad Boyz of BBQ are one such party (BYOB). Their food, the guys hosting, the decor and cooking were fabulous. Guy Fieri has visited and they were even featured on Diners, Dives and Drive-Ins.

O.co Coliseum, Oakland, California

The thing we have loved most about our tailgating experiences is the feeling of community. Generations of loyal fans sharing the love of the hometown team...through wins and losses. The traditional feel of a backyard party with the gang, where each person brings their signature dish, Uncle Bob always mans the grill and all the kids play ball together.

Final: Raider 15, Chiefs 0

Note: Many of the Raider fans were flying their flags at half mast for the children in Connecticut. There was sadness.

Your blog was slightly troubling indeed. Activities that start out as spontaneous neighborhood events are taken over by those whose only motive is to  make money.  Also, I agree with you that the violent nature of costumes and face painting is disturbing. I just sometimes feel that I can no longer embrace my adopted country with the same warmth and passion like the old days.


Lucky Number 13 already? Congratulations!  Keep keeping me in the loop. It's always nice to tune in a check in to your wild and crazy adventures.


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