April 14, 2015 - 10:21 am - 10th Annual Packers Tailgate Tour shoves off
The 10th Annual Packers Tailgate Tour is underway. On the bus this year are Packers President/CEO Mark Murphy, current players Andrew Quarless, Micah Hyde and Casey Hayward, and Packers alumni Gilbert Brown, Antonio Freeman and Bill Schroeder, in addition to legends alumni Dave Robinson and Jerry Kramer.

More than $1.6 million has been raised over the previous nine years of the tour with funds this year being raised for nonprofits at tailgate parties in Menomonie, (April 14), Prairie du Chien (April 15), Baraboo (April 16), Elkhorn (April 17) and Sheboygan (April 18).

“I’m looking forward to being back on the tour,” said Gilbert Brown, who is enjoying his second tour. “I always enjoy seeing the fans…and eating the meals.”

Photo Gallery: Packers set off on 2015 Tailgate Tour

April 14, 2015 - 11:01 am - This is Andrew Quarless with your morning announcements
Instead of regular morning announcements by a member of the staff, more than 760 students at Shawano Community High School heard tight end Andrew Quarless read through the day’s important notes. Most importantly, he revealed this year’s prom court.

“It was cool,” remarked Quarless. “Some of those names were hard, though.”

Quarless then invited the students to the gymnasium where they spoke about the importance of respect – for fellow students, staff and community.

Later, during a question-and-answer session, Micah Hyde received an invitation from a student to the aforementioned prom.

“I’ll get back to you,” Hyde said with a laugh.

Across the commons, Mark Murphy, Dave Robinson and Jerry Kramer, spoke with about 30 members of the local Rotary and Optimist Clubs.

The Tour continues west toward Menomonie.

Photo Gallery: Tailgate Tour opens at Shawano High School


April 14, 2015 - 4:04 pm - Surprise for the veterans

Residents at the Wisconsin Veterans Home in Chippewa Falls were preparing for a visit from an unknown guest when the team from the Green Bay Packers Tailgate Tour walked in and offered hearty hellos.

That’s a nice surprise on what was to be a relatively ordinary Tuesday afternoon for the 59 veterans who make their residence at this beautiful facility that opened in 2013.

The tour team appreciated the visit with the residents, which included 23 veterans who served in World War II.

After a welcome gathering that included a question-and-answer session, the players had the opportunity to serve afternoon food and desserts, as well as take in some games, including bean bag toss. Some the contests seem to spark the competitive spirit of Bill Schroeder and Gilbert Brown.

Jerry Kramer enjoyed hearing stories from one elderly veteran about his favorite player, Don Hutson.

Mark Wilson, the commandant of the facility and a veteran himself, took in the activity with a smile.

“What joy this visit has brought,” he observed. “These moments will live on in scrap books for years to come. It was great for these guys to do this.

For Andrew Quarless, who spends much of his regular work time receiving passes from Aaron Rodgers, some of today’s session was about receiving the veterans stories, about their service and also how much they enjoy being fans of the Packers.

“It was fun to hear about their experiences as a fan, all the different stories they had,” he said. “Especially some of the older veterans stories about Vince Lombardi.”

Quarless appreciated even more the opportunity to meet the veterans and offer his thanks.

“I’ve never met a World War II vet. It was incredible to see so many here and speak to them.”

The Tailgate Tour team is experiencing some down time before the first tailgate party of the tour at the Dunn County Fairgrounds to benefit the Bridge to Hope.

April 15, 2015 - 9:25 am - Energy-filled event caps first day
An electric atmosphere with more than 1,400 Packers fans capped the kickoff day of the Packers 10th anniversary Tailgate Tour Tuesday night at the Dunn County Fairgrounds Ice Arena in Menomonie.

The event benefited the Bridge to Hope, a nonprofit dedicated to ending domestic violence, sexual assault and human trafficking. Bridge to Hope aims to empower those who have been affected by violence, provide options and give support to individuals for a fresh start.

“It was awesome seeing the community coming together,” said Naomi Cummings, executive director at Bridge to Hope. “The joy at the event and the happiness was outstanding.”

After the fanfare-filled entrance, the group, led by Mark Murphy, spoke to the fans about a variety of topics and answered questions. Everything was game, including the upcoming season, rules changes and favorite players.

Fans can expect to learn some interesting tidbits about the players during the sessions. And in a humorous way.

For instance, when players were asked about when they started playing football, Gilbert Brown had a lighthearted way of saying he had to wait until high school to begin.

“I was too fat for little league,” he said, to the laughter of the audience. “Something about being safe for the other players. They wouldn’t let me play. I played in high school.”

Micah Hyde spoke about his disappointment in how rules changes seem to benefit the offense.

“You can’t even touch the receivers,” he said.

In addition to the money raised, the awareness garnered for the hosting nonprofits by the Tailgate Tour parties in the local community is as valuable. That was certainly the case for Bridge to Hope as well.

“It was awesome to put the word out in the community about what we do,” said Cummings.

Day 2 of the tour awaits!

Photo Gallery: Tailgate Tour: Menomonie tailgate party