Friends keep tailgating tradition strong

  • Leo Eskey talks with other tailgaters before Saturday's game. Bailey Schulz, News Net Nebraska.

By Bailey Schulz, News Net Nebraska

Brad Holtorf has been tailgating at the Husker football games long enough to lose track of the years.

“(It’s been about) 15, 20 years,” he said.

“Probably 18 years,” said Leo Eskey, 70, who helps host the tailgate.

Holtorf, 65, and Eskey can usually be found on the East side of Memorial Stadium before Husker football games, tailgating with family and friends before kickoff. The two expected to see between 60 and 100 people at the tailgate about an hour before the 2:30 p.m. game between Nebraska and Rutgers University on Sept. 23.

Faces at the tailgate have changed over the years — certain friends stopped coming to the games as years passed, others joined. Holtorf’s son, David, now comes with his family and friends, old bandmates who played alongside him in the Husker marching band.

People come and go,” Holtorf said. “That’s what it’s all about.”

The tailgaters have set up down to a fine art at this point. All of the essential tailgating equipment, from the tables and tent to the flat screen TV and satellite dish, are packed inside a single van. Eskey said it only takes 15 to 20 minutes to get everything set up.

“It’s a finely tuned machine,” he said.

But the group’s most important piece can be found on their flagpole; Holtorf said their tailgate is the only one to fly an American flag above the Husker flag.

Dwane Long, 69, has been coming to this tailgate for years and said he’s proud to see the American flag flying above the tailgate.

“Me being a Vietnam vet, that flag’s the most important flag out there,” he said. “It’s what gives you the most hope in the world.”

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