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Red Pinto Tailgate adapting to social distancing

Red Pinto Tailgate adapting to social distancing Photo: News10NBC.

Rich Donnelly
Updated: September 10, 2020 06:34 PM
Created: September 10, 2020 04:42 PM

ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WHEC) — The NFL season officially kicks off Thursday night when the defending Super Bowl champion Kansas City Chiefs host the Houston Texans. Following a similar refrain to seemingly everything in 2020, this season will be unlike any other we've seen; and that's true for a Buffalo Bills mainstay as well.

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"We have six grills going on top of the car,” Pinto Ron said, “this one's a shovel, it's for breakfast fare, omelets, pancakes, stuff like that."

For three decades the Red Pinto Tailgate has been a staple of Bills games. It's far from one person. This is truly a community, led by Pinto Ron and Pizza Pete. Bills fans from Rochester, Pinto Ron (Ken Johnson) and Pizza Pete (Pete Papagelis) have been tailgating at Bills games for over 25 years. 

"I started out just observing and I have a passion for cooking and started with the chicken wings and moved over to the shovel,” Pizza Pete said. “An upgrade," chimed Pinto Ron.

From ketchup sprayed from the top of a van to bowling ball shots and food cooked with just about anything, on a normal home game the Red Pinto Tailgate attracts nearly 1,000 people. But that's being put on pause this year.

"With the social distancing and the social climate right now, we can't have large crowds around," Pinto Ron said. “And even if I brought this car here, just by the nature of that car sitting in the Hammer's Lot it would attract people just milling around."

The car will stay in Rochester, but this year the show goes on the road. Whenever the Bills play in a game where fans are not allowed Ken “Pinto Ron” Johnson will travel to different Bills backers bars around the country to meet Bills fans.

"A lot of the people at the tailgate we've known each other for 30 years, it's almost like a family reunion," Pinto Ron said.

A large family of fans built up over 26 years of not missing a single Bills game, home or road.

"You wouldn't believe how many people I actually know that I only see once or twice a year randomly at some NFL city," Pinto Ron said. "They still might not have fans, but I want to see the people once a year that I normally see."

Pinto Ron said that he's leaving the Red Pinto here in Rochester for the year, but if you'd like to get a closer look at all the tools that are used for cooking, watch the video in the player below (mobile users, click here):


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