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On the tailgating ‘map’

November 26, 2010

The famed Boilermaker Hearse.

    Purdue plays its final home football game of the 2010 season this Saturday and if you wander around the tailgating which will be in evidence, you may see the famed Boilermaker Hearse.
    It comes from Decatur and it has become famous enough to make a special national tailgate list produced earlier this season by The Associated Press.
    A story written by the AP's college football writer, Ralph D. Russo, picks the top 12 tailgating sites in the country. No. 12 is Purdue, thanks solely to the hearse which sets up in West Lafayette for Boilermaker home games.
    "It’s not just a game in college football, it’s a daylong party," Russo;s story begins. "And out-partying the Southeastern Conference, with its passionate fans and mild weather for most of the season, is difficult.
    "But the SEC hasn’t cornered the market on tailgating like it has national championships. If you’re looking to go on a tailgating tour this season, here are the top 12 spots to hit."
    Here is what Russo had to say about his No. 12 choice:
    "12) Purdue: Makes the list for this alone: One Boilermakers fan converted a coffin into a grill and ice chest, and brought it to the game in a hearse."
    The hearse is owned by a couple of Decatur dentists, Terry Baker and his son, Matt, along with Terry's son-in-law, Brad Brown of Fort Wayne.
    How they wound up with the hearse is A story in itself: Having a little fun, placing a bid on e-bay, and having to go to Tennessee to pick up the prize — literally — an old hearse. A hearse that didn't run and had to be picked up on a flat-bed truck and brought back to Decatur.
    Before long, the hearse carried a coffin with an ice chest and a grill, and was painted in black and gold with the big gold Purdue "P" on its side.  And now it's put Purdue on a national list.    
    Here are the top 12 places for college tailgating, a list compiled by Ralph D. Russo, college football writer for The Associated Press.
    1) LSU. It’s all about the food. Hot dogs, burgers and brats? Please. Try spicy alligator, andouille sausage, gumbo, crawfish and maybe a little shrimp etouffee. Plenty of beverages to wash it all down, too.
    2) Mississippi. Ten acres shaded by oak trees make The Grove one of the great gameday spots in America. The saying at Ole Miss goes something like this: ‘‘We may lose a game, but we never lose a party.’’
    3) Washington. Tailgating in boats along Lake Washington, and the university even runs a shuttle boat to Husky Stadium. The scene makes up for the sketchy weather.
    4) Tennessee. More boats — ‘‘Volunteer Navy’’ docks on the nearby Tennessee River — and lots of orange make Rocky Top quite the scene.
    5) Ohio State. Take a walk down Lane Avenue and it’s like a Buckeyes street fair. Then hit Buckeye Grove, where a buckeye tree has been planted for each Ohio State All-American.
    6) Nebraska. Generally speaking, Cornhuskers fans have a reputation for being the nicest and most hospitable in college football. They also never run out of corn-fed beef.
    7) Texas. Barbecue smokers big enough to fit a side of beef, the cheerleaders wear chaps and when it comes to college towns, Austin is about as good as it gets.
    8) Penn State. Paternoville is the name of the tent city that sprouts up around Beaver Stadium the week before a game. For Temple, there might be a dozen or so tents. For Ohio State, the number might reach triple digits.
    9) Auburn. Tailgating is not just for pregame at Auburn. Visit Toomer’s Corner after the Tigers wins. It’s where the campus and the city converge and students toilet paper the trees to celebrate victories.
    10) Army. It’s a much smaller affair at West Point and the eats aren’t quite as elaborate, but the setting along the banks of the Hudson River is stunning.
    11) Clemson. The fraternities band together on gameday for a massive party and a Tiger can’t swing its tail without hitting a plate of barbecued meat.
    12) Purdue: Makes the list for this alone: One Boilermakers fan converted a coffin into a grill and ice chest, and brought it to the game in a hearse.
    —The Associated Press

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