Madison welcomes the Packers

Posted by Aaron Popkey on May 16, 2012 – 10:01 pm

The Packers Tailgate Tour ended Day 2 in fine fashion at Madison’s Alliant Energy Center where more than 850 fans took part in the event to support the Ronald McDonald House.

Members of the UW Marching Band led the group into the facility, which gave the exhibition hall a bit of a feel of legendary Camp Randall Stadium.

Tonight’s Q-and-A featured some familiar topics, including various football questions and opinions on Donald Driver’s dancing abilities (William Henderson referred to him as “Twinkle Toes”). Fans also learned tonight that Charlie Peprah admired former Cowboys running back Emmitt Smith and Henderson admired former Redskins running back John Riggins.

It was just that setting the appealed to Sharon Adler of Madison.

“It’s their interaction with people that makes this event so much fun,” she explained. “It’s so awesome to see the players in this different atmosphere. It brings it all back to that they’re real people, they’re just like us. We love them.”

Adler made it a family affair and enjoyed the party with her sister and two nieces. It was also her sixth party in the seven years of the Tailgate Tour. She did not attend an event last year as the route stayed in the northern parts of the state. She did say that geography won’t hold her back in the future, however.

“We’ll find one every year,” she vowed.

Mary Donahue, who coordinates marketing and communications for the Ronald McDonald House, said local companies were very supportive with sponsorships, in addition to the fans who bought individual tickets to the event.

“It was a great success for the House,” she said. “Families are having a great time tonight. It’s really fun to see.”

For Charlie Peprah, it was a successful way to end his second day on the tour, coincidentally in a city where his younger brother, Josh, plays football for the Wisconsin Badgers.

“Madison has some good fans,” he said. “A few people asked me about my brother.”

He also enjoyed the earlier parts of the day, particularly the visit to Truax Field to see the Wisconsin Air National Guard.

Day 3 will feature a number of stops on the way to Kenosha.

Click here to see photos of the Madison tailgate party.

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Packers land at 115th Fighter Wing for a visit

Posted by Aaron Popkey on May 16, 2012 – 9:39 pm

Larry McCarren

Today’s afternoon surprise stop was at the base of the Wisconsin Air National Guard’s 115th Fighter Wing at Truax Field in Madison.

Approximately 350 members of the unit, nearly all of its full-time personnel and roughly 30 percent of the base’s total compliment of Airmen, were participating in a recognition ceremony in a hanger when the tour bus pulled up to surprise them.

The tour members proceeded to the stage and had the opportunity to thank the Airmen for their service to the country.

Lt. Col. Chad Milne, a pilot who has participated in flyovers at Lambeau Field, enjoyed welcoming the Packers to his turf for a change.

“It was a great experience for them to come here and have us show them around,” he said. “It’s neat to share our story with anyone, but especially these guys.”

Col. Pat Volk particularly enjoyed the timing of the surprise visit as the unit has been going through a series of inspections.

“It’s a stressful time for our Airmen, with our readiness exercises and inspections, and preparing to go overseas again later this year,” he explained. “Today is a great morale event.”

After mingling with the Airmen, a few of the players had the opportunity to see the cockpit of an F-16 up close. Larry McCarren, who holds a private pilot’s license, even had a chance to sit in the pilot’s seat of the fighter. He clearly enjoyed the moment.

“If you’re an airplane nut like me, that was a great time,” he said with a smile. “If was fun talk to the pilot and the guys who take care of the plane.

“It was something to sit in that cockpit, too. I’ve heard them say that in a fighter, you strap on the plane. It’s true. That’s a tight fit.”

Click here to see photos from the 115th Fighter Wing visit.

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Dancing the two-step in West Salem

Posted by Aaron Popkey on May 16, 2012 – 1:24 pm

The Tailgate Tour is motoring along toward Madison after finishing lunch at High Rock Café in Wisconsin Dells.

Earlier this morning, the crew enjoyed a visit to West Salem High School where they surprised a school assembly of more than 500 students and spoke to them about making good choices and how bullying can be a destructive force in our communities.

William Henderson again spoke to the students on bullying and implored them to build up those in vulnerable positions and not tear them down.

During the Q-and-A, Henderson also spoke of appearing in two Super Bowls – the victory in XXXI and the loss in XXXII.

“When you win, it’s great. When you lose, you’re humbled,” he said. “You realize how easy it is to lose the edge when you aren’t playing your best and when you make mistakes. I spent the rest of my career remembering that game and how we lost. It’s tough when you lose the Super Bowl.”

Dancing with the Stars was again a hot topic for the group. All expressed great excitement with Donald Driver’s advancement to the finals.

“We were done with our event last night and were all on the bus watching the end of the show,” Mason Crosby explained, adding that he had not watched the show until this season. “We were very nervous for Donald and then, of course, very excited to see him move on to next week.”

The suspense of the show was not the only reason for anxiousness last night. The TV signal on the bus was going in and out as the green and gold vehicle moved through downtown. At one point, Charlie Peprah called for the bus to stop so the rest of the show could be watched…no one wanted to miss the end.

The dancing theme continued at West Salem High when Crosby said he could dance a two-step…he is from Texas, after all. He offered to be a partner and a plethora of hands went up.

Sophomore Brady Scafe raised a hand and joined the Packers’ kicker on the floor. Turns out she was interested in a picture with Jordy Nelson, but enjoyed the dance with Crosby.

“I don’t dance much,” she said. “But it was cool.”

Marco Rivera, upon request, demonstrated his smooth Samba moves again. It could be a recurring theme this week.

Nelson was again challenged to a sprint race, and also caught a few passes from some Panther quarterbacks.

The students also learned that Crosby’s pregame routine includes always putting his left shoe on first.

On to Madison.

Click here to see photos from the West Salem High School visit.

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Inside the tour bus: Players watch “Dancing”

Posted by Duke Bobber on May 16, 2012 – 1:01 pm

The 'Tailgate Tour' group watches Donald Driver on DWTS

As soon as Tuesday night’s tailgate party ended in La Crosse, the players filed back onto the tour bus to watch the final minutes of “Dancing With The Stars.” There was a collective sigh of relief when the results were announced and the players realized Driver was moving onto the finals.

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