The Free Press, Mankato, MN

July 18, 2013

Vikings to be greeted by tailgating groups

Camp kicks off next week in Mankato

By Brian Ojanpa bojanpa@mankatofreepress.com
The Mankato Free Press

---- — MANKATO — Lest the Minnesota Vikings feel unloved when they arrive in town next Thursday, plans have been made to shower them with staged affection.

A series of 2-4 p.m July 25 tailgate parties will greet players and coaches as they wend their vehicles to annual training camp at Minnesota State University.

“We want to do what we can so the Vikings can feel the love of the community — and keep signing those (camp) contracts,” Visit Mankato President Anna Thill said of the first-time event that encourages people to come and wave pom poms and blow Vikings horns that will be distributed while supplies last.

Thill said the tailgate parties idea was inspired by the designated cheer zones to spur on runners during the annual Mankato Marathon.

She said the tailgate parties at four locations in and near Mankato were chosen based on spectator safety and parking availability and on the route players will take through the community.

“Hopefully, they’ll honk or make some kind of sign and play along with us a little bit,” Thill said. “Let’s give it a go and see what happens.”

Participants are encouraged to pre-register for the gatherings by going to visitmankatomn.com.

The four locations are Minnesota Square Park in St. Peter, Dairy Queen across from Mankato West High School, First Congregational United Church of Christ at the corner of Stoltzman and Stadium roads, and on the MSU campus at the corner of Stadium Road and Ellis Avenue.

Training camp opens July 26 and runs through Aug. 14.