Some Duck Fans Bring More Than Just The Typical Tailgate Gear

Oct 8, 2012

The Oregon Ducks continued their roll Saturday night with a victory over their Washington rivals, the Huskies.

The game is definitely the main event of any college football weekend, but the celebration begins many hours before.

KLCC’s Jes Burns found some fans whose dedication goes far beyond Duck t-shirts and car magnets. They’ve spent time and money to make their tailgating experience the envy of Autzen.


Before there’s the roar of the crowd, there’s this:

“Brats and some chicken skewers… and then we had hamburgers to start.”

And this:

“Drinking the Bud Lite.”

And this:

“Oppa Gangnam Style!”

Tailgating. The lots around Autzen stadium becomes a turbulent sea of green and yellow, with a touch of purple thrown in here and there as a few Huskies brave enemy territory.

Tailgating tents emblazoned with the ubiquitous Oregon “O” are a dime a dozen. Car flags and pompoms protrude from nearly every vehicle. And about every 10th tailgating party has a flat screen TV with other college football games on.

But not everyone’s TV does this:

Norling: You see this slides out, flips down, and slides in.

Burns:So the whole TV slides into the trailer?

Norling: Everything’s in. This thing is a box.

That’s Mark Norling of Portland. His giant TV is permanently mounted on metal brackets that neatly fold down and disappear inside of his tricked out pull-behind trailer. There’s a self-seeking satellite mounted on top.

Norling: “The idea started about five years ago when I was driving back from the game with some friends. And one of my friends, who’s a Duck fan, but made the mistake of going to Oregon State. But part of that mistake worked out well, because he’s an engineer. And I’m talking to him saying, ‘I’d love have something to pull down every game, that’d be easy to pull… and would have a keg, and a grill, a TV, and sound.’ And he said, ‘I can do that for you.’ He engineered it, built it, fabricated the metal, everything from scratch.”

In tow mode, the trailer looks like nothing more than a metal Oregon-green box, about four foot high and 10 feet long. In tailgating-mode, the roof rises and Norling and his guests indeed have everything they need.

Norling’s trailer is all about the party. Laurie Jones’ is about getting there from Tigard, with 12 of her closest friends in the “Duck Bus.”

Jones: “The bus comes down every home game. I just depends on who comes down with it.”

Jones found the shorty bus for sale on the side of the road. A church was upgrading, and she bought on the spot. A bonus, it was already Oregon yellow.

Jones: “So we just had the green painted. Some friends of ours bought the stickers. It’s been awesome.”

Just don’t ask her what kind of mileage it gets.

Jones: “Yeah, we fill it up, and then we run it, and we fill it up. We don’t even keep track. I’m thinking ten.”

That’s better than eight miles per gallon, which is about what a fire truck will get. Yes. That’s right, a fire truck.

Anderson: “You’re looking at Fire Duck. A converted 1983 Can-Am fire pumper.”

Don Anderson spent some time in a Ducks uniform on the track and the gridiron. He now lives in Washington.

Anderson: “My son-in-law is a professional fire fighter, and I was a volunteer years ago, and we said looks like a tailgating vehicle to us. So we bought it from his old department.”

They spent the past year converting it into the ultimate tailgating vehicle.

Anderson: “On the side where it used to be all SEBA breathing apparatus, we have a flat screen TV off Direct TV. Beer tap coming out the side. Off the back we have a full-sized BBQ that slides out onto the tail board. Instead of firefighters riding back there we have burgers.”

If you climb up the ladder on the back, the original and functional water cannon is still there. And Anderson's installed a couple benches up there as well. The truck had a long career extinguishing fires in Washington, but now the only crisis Fire Duck will have to handle, is if the University of Oregon ever loses a game.

Copyright 2012 Northwest Public Radio