A sea of gold and red filled the Pitman High School parking lot today as hundreds of Turlockers joined together to tailgate and honor one of their own.
The Turlock Believes Tailgate Party unified Turlockers with a single purpose: to show a hometown's support for Turlock native Colin Kaepernick, quarterback of the Super Bowl-bound San Francisco 49ers.
“It’s good for Turlock to join together, and nice to see Turlock be in the news for positive reasons,” said Planning Commissioner Soraya Fregosi.
The day of fun, presented by the Turlock Education Foundation, offered various prizes, games and giveaways for children, teenagers and adults alike. And, of course, the tailgate offered copious amounts of food.
In true tailgate spirit many attendees brought their own BBQs. Others munched hot dogs, tri-tip, pulled pork sandwiches, pizza, kettle corn and other delicious treats available from vendors.
“The main goal was to create an atmosphere for people to have fun,” said Media Relations Director and spokesperson for Turlock Believes Alexis Nascimento. “We definitely succeeded.”
Amazingly, the event was planned in only about eleven days, Nascimento said. Press releases were sent out to major media outlets only two days prior to the event.
“The joke has been, if we were able to plan this in eleven days, could you imagine what we could’ve done in three months?” Nascimento laughed. “People always say, ‘There’s nothing fun to do in Turlock,’ and that’s not true. You just need to look for it, or sometimes even be the one to put something on.”
Scores of booths and vendors offered entertainment options, from the Turlock Police Department handing out stickers to the Turlock Fire Department giving tours of a fire engine. Three radio stations were present, and Frost Bakery offered their famous Kap Cakes while Westside Ministries had Kaepernick T-shirts for sake.
At noon the crowd circled around the main stage as Mayor John Lazar and fellow Turlock City Councilmembers gathered to officially declare the weekend “Go Colin Kaepernick and the San Francisco 49ers Weekend.”
After reading the proclamation – commending Kaepernick’s dedication, enthusiasm, hard work, teamwork, respect and leadership – Mayor Lazar let out a big “Go 49ers!” shout to the crowd, which was met with a roar of applause and cheer.
Barney Gordon, of the Turlock Education Foundation and the Turlock Parks and Recreation Commission, also spoke to the crowd following the Mayor’s proclamation. Gordon, who helped plan the event, thanked the crowd for attending as well as the Board of the Education Foundation who worked hard to put the event together.
“What’s amazing to me is how the community has come together to support and sponsor this event,” Gordon said. “Everything you see here has been donated by our great community. So this is a party for the community, by the community.”
The event was highlighted by a massive wall of signatures, attendees scrawled countless messages to Kap. And at the end of the event, the crowd came together for a group photo with the Turlock Believes signature wall.
That photo will be sent to Kaepernick to show him Turlock’s unwavering support, regardless of the outcome of Sunday's Super Bowl.
The tailgate party will continue on as a Super Bowl Party on Sunday at Larsa Banquet Hall, located at 2107 E. Monte Vista Avenue.