Seen and heard outside New Era Field before Bills vs. Broncos…
Beating the heat: Although the calendar officially says it’s autumn, it felt like mid-July Sunday morning in Orchard Park, where the sun was scorching and temperatures were headed toward a high of 89 degrees before the Bills’ Week 3 matchup with the Denver Broncos.
There was lots of talk about staying hydrated and using sunscreen in the tailgating lots outside New Era Field – but one group of fans took staying cool to another level.
In the Bert’s Bikes & Fitness parking lot on Southwestern Boulevard, a group of tailgaters led by Bills fan David Pels lounged in an inflatable pool. They brought their own hose, inflated the pool and asked a Bert’s representative if they could hook up to the store’s water supply. Bert’s gave them the OK, and a pregame resort-style tailgate was born. The scene was complete with a water noodle and a poolside television playing CBS’ “Face the Nation.”
Pels, of Buffalo, who posts photos at the Instagram handle @jagaloon_lagoon, said he and his friends used the pool last week in a friend’s backyard to watch the Bills’ away game against the Carolina Panthers.
Pels’ friend Joe Vu, also of Buffalo, was sure to write out a list of pool rules. Among them: no dirty feet, no glass and no diving. Vu estimated the pool could hold about six large adults.
Asked if the poolside tailgating would become a tradition, Pels answered, “Until it snows.”
Taking requests: Music was blasting from plenty of tailgate parties on Sunday, but the beats boomed especially heavily from one setup across Abbott Road from the stadium.
DJ Swagg – real name Doug Wilson, of Buffalo – said he sets up his DJ booth for “every Bills game.” And Sunday was a special occasion for another reason.
“I decided to have my birthday party out here with everybody,” said Wilson, who turned 36 Sunday. He said he often plays clubs throughout the Buffalo area in addition to the free tailgating entertainment he provides.
Over a microphone, Wilson offered nearby Bills fans the chance to request a song – in exchange for tips.
“I don’t care what you choose,” Wilson said. “I’ll even play ‘Sweet Home Alabama’ if you pay for it.”
Stampeding through the tailgate: In other musical happenings, the drummers in the Stampede Drumline, who call themselves the official drumline of the Bills, walked parade-style through the New Era Field parking lots, entertaining all in their path.
Onlookers were quick to pull out their phones and record videos of the drummers, who wore matching outfits and gave the tailgate the feel of a pep rally.
— Luke Hammill (@lucashammill) September 24, 2017
The Stampede often plays a three-minute pregame show on the field before kickoff, according to the group’s website. The drummers have also played during Bills’ halftime shows.
In enemy territory: Broncos fans were fairly well represented among the tailgating crowd Sunday morning. Denver fans included Justin Smith, 41, of Batavia, who said he has been rooting for the team since he was 11 years old.
Smith said one reason he liked the Broncos when he was younger was because one of his favorite players was Tony Dorsett, who was traded from the Dallas Cowboys to Denver in 1988.
Smith was preparing for Sunday’s game with his 10-year-old son, also named Justin. The younger Justin sported the jersey of Peyton Manning, who led the Broncos to a Super Bowl in 2016.
“We went crazy inside our house,” said the elder Smith, referring to the night Denver won the title.
Next tailgate: The Bills’ next home game isn’t until Oct. 22, when Buffalo will host Tampa Bay after the Bills’ bye week.
Follow Luke Hammill on Twitter: @lucashammill.