Long before the first official game of the Eagles season started, the parking lot pregaming was off to a fast start as die-hard fans decked in all manner of green proved it’s never too early to drink a beer, eat a pretzel, or toss a bean bag.
By 8:30 a.m. streets around Lincoln Financial Field were at a near standstill, as some drivers merged aggressively toward the reserved lots and others inched toward cheaper spaces farther away.
Maria and Antonio Silva, who have been tailgating since 1991, knew better than to arrive that late. The Medford couple were at the Linc by 5:30 and had their 30-foot, Go Green RV in their traditional parking space as soon as Lot K opened. By 9, they had their food and chairs ready and could kick back and start eating and drinking.
“Nobody will ever take this space away from us,” Maria Silva said.
Tony Silva manned a well-stocked grill and rotisserie while Maria mingled with guests wearing green lipstick and tall green boots, a glass of wine cradled in a green necklace-like, crocheted wine glass holder.
She had tried to go to bed early Saturday night but was too excited to sleep. It was tough to get up at 4. “We prefer 8 p.m. games," she said.
They make good time on Sunday mornings. “Our RV is equipped with lights and a siren,” she joked. “I don’t know if I’m supposed to tell you that. They’re green lights.”
She was happy to give a tour of the RV, which was, predictably, decorated from end to end in Eagles paraphernalia, including a prized photo with Eagles owner Jeffrey Lurie, who dropped by one day. The driver’s seat was draped in a Carson Wentz shirt. A Nick Foles shirt was on the passenger side.
They have to buy two season parking passes, at $350 each, for the RV, but Maria Silva doesn’t mind the price. “I love the Eagles. We love the Eagles,” she said. “Plus, the Eagles are the best tailgating team out there. … We like to have fun, and we know our football.”
Not far away, the Kosh family gathered around a smaller version of the fan tailgating dream, a small school bus painted Eagles green. It’s an appropriate vehicle for Ellen Kosh, a seventh-grade teacher at Wissahickon Middle School whose classroom is loaded with signs of Eagles fandom. Her students know, she said, that “if the Eagles lose on Sunday, they’d better hang their heads on Monday.”
She and her husband, Gabe Kosh, have been tailgating since 2003. “It’s like a big party,” he said. “It’s eight parties a year and then, if we get lucky, we have the playoffs.”
They expected 40 to 50 people to drop by Sunday morning for a spread that started with French toast casserole.
“We’ve planned births around this,” Ellen Kosh said. “We’ve planned weddings around this.”
Their son Brian and his wife, Ashley, were among Sunday’s revelers. They got married in 2014 during a bye week. The Eagles’ pep band came to their ceremony.
In the M lot, a bit farther from the Linc, the crowd was a little younger and louder.
Ron and Sherray Hoggard, both 38, from Hockessin, Del., like the excitement there and have tried to get into the M or N lots in the five years they’ve been tailgating. Usually, 20 or 30 of their friends join them during the early games. The numbers drop off later in the season as temperatures fall.
They arrived by 7, eager to soak in some Eagles enthusiasm (which fans would contend helped power the Eagles to come from behind to beat the Washington Redskins, 32-27). It’s hard to find in Delaware. “It’s just the love of the Eagles, just coming out here and being able to be amongst the fans,” Ron Hoggard said.
He was wearing green-and-white Nikes, green-and-white pants, and an Eagles hat while his wife was in more staid black.
“She’s a bigger Eagles fan than me,” he said. “That should not be understated because that’s why we got married.”
By a little after 10 a.m., they were already thinking of breaking down their tailgating gear because they’d been asked to hold the flag during the game.
For Mother’s Day, he bought her a cute little tent to hide a potty. “I cried,” she said.
It was a bonus that it was green.