Nebraska tailgating and a tradition of friendships
Photos and story by Evan Hummel, NewsNetNebraska
Just 50 feet away from the west entrance of Memorial Stadium sits the Nebraska Champions Club. A place where distinguished alumni and friends can gather on game days and tailgate. Dave and Ann Hickey, from Omaha, are two members that have been tailgating at the club since its inception in the late 90s.
Outside the building are hundreds of tailgaters, but the Hickey’s have no trouble setting themselves apart. With a unique combination of close friends and an abundance of food, they’ll be sure to catch your eye.
I walked up to their tailgate before Nebraska was to take on Illinois Saturday afternoon. Not knowing what to expect when I approached them–I quickly found out I was among friendly company. Both Ann and Dave Hickey were happy to show me around. Mr. and Mrs. Hickey were excited to offer me a taste of what they called, a “walking taco”–a combination of Fritos, queso, taco meat, sour cream, tomatoes, black olives and guacamole. I couldn’t resist.
There’s certainly no shortage of food at the Hickey’s tailgate. With everything from chocolate chip cookies to white chocolate filled raspberries. They usually like to do a themed food item. For the Oregon game, they served “duck ketchup,” flown in from Eugene,Ore. and “duck cookies.” With a group of friends from church, they set a menu for the tailgate, and each person contributes to the barrage of food.
But Dave and Ann will be the first to tell you it’s not about the food, it’s about the company Mingling with friends and meeting new people is what makes the experience special to them.They’ve hosted guestsfrom Heisman Trophy winner and former Husker quarterback, Eric Crouch to the family of former Washington Huskies and Tennessee Titan’s quarterback, Jake Locker. And if you’re an opposing fan, no worries, the Hickey’s will be the first to welcome you to the fun.
Ann Hickey says, that’s what makes Nebraska unique, the kind-hearted nature of the fanbase. And if the Hickey’s are any indication, that’s the spirit of a Husker tailgate. The Hickey’s travel to away games as well, even bringing many of their friends. Developing new friendships and rekindling old ones is the name of the game for the Hickey’s. But Ann was quick to remind me of the best tailgate of all. The one right across the street, where over 90,000 fans gather to cheer on the Big Red. “Nothing is more fun than the game,” said Ann.