When Paul Micksch spent $300 on a broken-down electrician’s delivery truck in 1998, little did he know just what would become of the investment.
He approached a few of his high school buddies and another $1200 was spent on the essentials, ranging from the transmission to the brakes. Soon the accessories were added – a sound system with built-in stereo and speakers, a pair of coolers, and even a porto-potty toilet. Add to all this an exterior paint job in the finest shades of Green and Gold that make any Green Bay Packer fan giddy. Suddenly a phenomenon was born.
For seven years The Titletown SWAT (Sexy Women and Tailgating) truck has been a game day fixture in the Lambeau Field parking lot, arriving as early as 7:30 a.m. What might be interpreted in Montreal, or anywhere else in the world for that matter, as a vehicle from the circus, is to residents of Green Bay, Wisconsin, a prized possession.
“Isn’t she a beauty?” Micksch asked while offering the tour. Well, yes they do say that beauty is in the eye of the beholder.
Then again, Micksch is not alone. In fact, he is far from it. Over a hundred fans a game, the majority of whom the SWAT team has never met before, make their way to the vehicle for barbecue, beer, and an experience that cannot be duplicated. Admission is free. Just don’t be rooting for the Chicago Bears.
The SWAT team now consists of 20 friends who have joined Micksch in helping fund and maintain the vehicle, while contributing to the purchase of food and drink.
“We put in about two to three thousand dollars every year, depending on the year,” said Chad Trinker, while finishing off his third Miller Lite, an hour before kickoff. “We do have a budget we try to respect, but we’re always willing to accept donations,” he said. A black donation box can be found on the back door of the truck next to a bumper sticker reading God Bless Packer Fans. Once the man above is brought into the equation, who can resist making a donation on a Sunday?
Brian Tomcheck, 27, of nearby Ashwaubenon, WI has also been a SWAT team member since the late 90s and says that adding the community toilet three years ago was a great move.
“It increased traffic in here quite a bit,” he said pointing to the line of people waiting to use the facility. “We’ve become the most popular truck here, because all the other tailgaters want to be close by now.”
According to Tomcheck, the SWAT truck goes through more than 200 cans of beer on game days, suggesting that the porto-potty may be more of a necessity than a luxury.
Three vehicles down the row in the Lambeau Field parking lot is P.J. Weinberg, a Green Bay resident whose collection of women’s undergarments hanging from his pick-up truck is difficult to ignore.
“We began this tradition when Lambeau was undergoing its renovations (in the late 1990s). We decided that Lambeau and the Packers needed support,” Weinberg said. “So we gave it to them. Literally,” he said pointing to the banner and bras waving above his vehicle.
While no official tally is kept, Weinberg estimates that hundreds of bras are donated each season.
“It varies based on the weather, the time of the game, and how good the Packers are doing. Usually when the Pack are struggling, the women tend to drink more here, so they’re easier to entice,” he said.
Asked if there was anything unethical in his service, Weinberg was quick to shrug it off. “It’s just like Vegas out here. What happens in Lambeau stays in Lambeau.”
“Just last week we had a 92-year-old woman come by with her 70-year-old daughter. The 92-year-old wanted to give support, but her daughter wouldn’t let. It was too bad, because then the Packers lost,” said Weinberg. And these two events relate to each other how exactly?
Perhaps Cameo VanLieshout can explain. After donating her bra to the collection she said the decision was easy. “The Pack are 0-4. They need our support.”
That afternoon, the Packers beat the New Orleans Saints 52-3 for their first win of the year. VanLieshout rests her case.
Welcome to Green Bay, Wisconsin- the tailgating capital of the world, where Packer fans are always welcome and those in support of the opposition are told to stay home.
“He’s a Vikings fan, so I couldn’t bring him here today,” said Beth Wandsnider of her Minnesota-born husband, who she did not invite with any of the four tickets she had won last month. Instead Wandsnider made the two-hour drive from Laona, WI, with her son and two friends, arriving at Lambeau just in time to set up their grill and portable television screen at 9:00 a.m.
A Packers win is often good for business in Green Bay and its 102,000 citizens (for what it’s worth, Lambeau Field’s seating capacity is just under 73,000). Following last Sunday’s win, lineups were aplenty at the local bars and restaurants. A block away from Lambeau, at Brett Favre’s Steakhouse, fans were told to wait upwards of two hours for a table.
Not to worry though. The tailgating parties would continue well into the night, where waits and lineups are for porto-potties and beer, and hot dogs are for the diehards.