April 15, 2015 - 12:52 pm - Students urged to sack bullying

Bullying was the subject and Gilbert Brown delivered the message with emphatic intensity, much like he did on the football field when he felled Packers opponents.

“Bullies are cowards,” he said to 450 students at Durand Middle and High School. “They need an audience and don’t give them that. Also, if you’re being bullied, try not to show any fear, because when you do, the bully gets stronger.”

Brown went on to describe how bullying is now a 24/7 activity with social media. Prior to the onset of the online culture, victims would have a brief respite when they were away from school or other social settings, but now worry about the constant putdowns that can take place through the web.

“There are kids that cry themselves to sleep each night because of it,” Brown continued. “Don’t be any part of bullying. Put a stop to it. Stand up for those that are being bullied. Tell a teacher, tell a parent. Put a stop to it.”

Andrew Quarless added to the effort, too, when he said, “dare to be different.”

The students, who sat in focused attention, participated fully with thoughtful questions. One young lady became particularly emotional when asking how one apologizes to someone for being a bully.

There were light moments, too. Brown chastised three students who were wearing Minnesota Vikings jerseys. Maybe Brown forgot that the state border was close by.

“How can we have three idiots in this crowd,” Brown said with a laugh.

Photo gallery: Tailgate Tour surprises Durand Middle & High School students

April 15, 2015 - 2:21 pm - I've got $400, can I get $500

Live auctions typically are a great way to raise money, but a surprise stop at SpringBrook Assisted Living in Onalaska featured an auction simply as a way for the more than 50 residents to have fun.

In a first for the Tailgate Tour, players and Mark Murphy participated by signing Packers items as a way to increase the bids. There was a question in players’ minds, though: were they using real money?

“At first I was thinking, ‘Wait a minute. These people shouldn’t be spending this kind of money on an auction,’ ” said Andrew Quarless.

Soon he and the others saw that it was strictly an in-house, SpringBrook currency.

“Then I knew it was OK,” said Bill Schroeder with a laugh.

Jerry Kramer and Dave Robinson took turns with the microphone, each trying to have his autographed item raise the highest price.

“I don’t know how to do this,” Kramer finally admitted. “But I’ll keep going anyway.”

The stop at SpringBrook followed a tasty lunch at Features Sports Bar & Grill in Holmen and a quick pit stop to a nearby Festival Foods where Gilbert Brown and Casey Hayward picked up a few provisions and briefly mingled with shoppers and staff.

The Tailgate Tour motor coach continues south along the beautiful Mississippi River toward tonight’s destination, Prairie du Chien.

Photo Gallery: Going once, going twice…

April 16, 2015 - 10:29 am - Party at the Barn

A rustic, converted barn served as the party site for Wednesday night’s gathering as more than 600 fans enjoyed getting up close and personal with the members of the Tailgate Tour.

The Barn, with sections that date back nearly 100 years, was not a typical site for a tailgate party, but it provided a different feel for the tour members.

“I liked it,” said Mark Murphy. “It was a more intimate venue. We’re usually in a larger place. It felt like you could get to know the fans a little better.”

Photo gallery: Tailgate Tour rolls on in Prairie du Chien

The party benefitted St. Feriole Island Park Inc., an organization that oversees a playing field complex that serves youth baseball, softball and other outdoor recreational activities. The next project for the organization is to construct facilities that will allow for evening use to further serve the community and its commitment to the psychological and physical wellbeing of its citizens.

Gilbert Brown received a big hand from the crowd, which is becoming a usual occurrence, be it at a school or at a party. He revved them up even more with a request for a “Go Pack Go!” cheer. When it was as loud as he would have liked, he accused the gathering of being Minnesota Vikings fans.

During the question-and-answer session, Brown received a request for a hug, which he gladly fulfilled. It was a very enthusiastic embrace, one which the other tour members enjoyed witnessing.

“Gilbert,” said Murphy, “I had no idea you had that effect on women!”

“That was something,” Brown said with a smile. “I swear she had three hands.”

With Iowa right across the river, many Hawkeye fans were in attendance and showed their appreciation for Micah Hyde. He gladly accepted their cheers.

“That was fun,” Hyde recalled. “I forgot how close we were to Iowa. They’ve got great fans and continue to follow us in the NFL because they have no pro team.”

Bill Schroeder, a grad from nearby UW-La Crosse, also received a big hand.

Day 3 sees the tour making its way to Baraboo.