Illini fan serious about tailgating

Saturday, September 5, 2009 | 4:13 p.m. CDT; updated 8:33 p.m. CDT, Saturday, September 5, 2009

ST. LOUIS — Richard Geese looks like a typical Illinois fan. The 44-year-old from Mahomet, Ill., wore an orange No. 7 Fighting Illini jersey to Saturday’s game against Missouri in St. Louis. He tailgated in a parking lot near the Edward Jones Dome. He had Illinois-logo sunglasses perched on top of his head.

The vehicle Geese drove to the game sets him apart, though. The white Itasca RV has blue and orange trim. On the left side of the vehicle, there is a large decal of Chief Illiniwek. The front hood is painted blue, with the phrase, “Oskee-Wow-Wow,” painted on it in white. Geese said he doesn’t know the meaning of the phrase, but put it on his RV because it is a line in the Illinois fight song.

The inside of the vehicle is more of a display of Geese’s fanhood. The benches are orange and blue with the letter I on the back of the seats. The driver’s and passenger’s seats are also Illinois colors.

There is a counter with a sink, and underneath Geese has ticket stubs from past Illinois football games. There is a clock in the back of the trailer that also displays Chief Illiniwek’s face. The trailer even has Illinois-logo blinds. It has a stereo that plays music loud enough for the tailgaters outside to hear. It has flat-panel satellite TVs.

Geese bought the 1984 model RV last February. He then gutted it, taking out the beds and putting in Illini-themed bench seating so people can travel with him to games. He had eight people join him on the trip to Saturday’s game.

Geese started tailgating at Illinois games about seven years ago, using his friend Paul Pierce’s Jeep Cherokee. Through the years, the crowd of Illinois fans has grown.

“It went from a truck tailgate with a car stereo,” Geese said. “Now we have a 5,000-watt stereo.”

As the parties gradually expanded, Geese started using a camper he pulled to games with a truck and then he bought the RV he calls “The Tramper.” Even the bathroom door is white with orange and blue trim.

Geese tailgates at every Illinois home game, and says he makes two or three away games a year. Before next Saturday’s home opener against Illinois State, Champaign-area band Candy Foster will play at his tailgate.

“It’s an icon,” Geese said of his RVs presence in a parking lot near Memorial Stadium in Champaign. “Not a good one, not a bad one, just an icon.”


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