The Tailgating Traditions of the Thomas Family and the “Tailgaters With Attitude” Tent
An Interview with Ronnie and Tina Thomas by HottyToddy.com
Enjoy the ninth in our series of Tailgating Traditions articles sponsored by Ole Miss Tailgating where you can even order Raising Cane’s® and Chick-fil-A® for your Grove Tent! (Click the Ole Miss Tailgating logo below to see the menu and order!)
HottyToddy.com: The Tailgaters With Attitude tent has been tailgating for a long time, tell us about the history?
Tina Thomas: We moved back to Germantown, Tennessee in 1998 when our two boys were 8 (Cameron) and 2 (Devon) and started tailgating the fall of 1998 with a little red wagon and a card table. It was only the four of us at the time. For the next football season, we purchased a tent and a friend from work (Melissa Lovorn) found out we tailgated at each Ole Miss home game and asked if she and her family could join. Anyone who knows me knows that “the more the merrier” is my motto, so Melissa and her family joined. After a few games, her best friend (Pam Holub) asked if her family could also join. So more tents were added, and we’ve grown exponentially from there—family and friends have joined and we now have five tents, satellite TV, surround sound and steam table. Ronnie and I have only missed one home game since 1998, but our tailgating group and set-up have never missed a home game.
HottyToddy.com: Where did the name “Tailgaters with Attitude” come from?
Tina Thomas: Once our tailgating set-up outgrew the number of trucks we had to haul everything, we decided to purchase an enclosed trailer to haul all of the stuff, and of course we had to have a logo on the trailer so we discussed different names and came up with “Tailgaters with Attitude” based on the tattoo that Pam’s oldest son (Paris Smith) has on his arm of Colonel Rebel that has a backwards baseball cap on rather than the normal Colonel Reb hat—this Colonel Reb has attitude and became our mascot.
HottyToddy.com: Who are the regular participants in the Tailgaters With Attitude tent?
Tina Thomas: It is a long list–Ronnie, Tina, Cameron, Devon, Lollie, Haley, Melissa, Ashley, Abby, Pam, Joe, Jordan, Paris, India, Phoenix, London, Cindy, Betty, Carl, Krisitn, Hollis, Madelynne, Tommy, Debra, Samantha, Chance and Stephen–with new additions this year of Martha, Chuck, Jasper, Sharon, Kaitlyn and Karleann.
HottyToddy.com: Where is the location of your tent, and how did you select it?
Tina Thomas: We are located in front of Carrier Hall on “Hotty Toddy Island”. The island is the area where three sidewalks meet creating an island. We share the Island with other good friends and their families.
HottyToddy.com: What is your history with Ole Miss (in general) as well as the other principals?
Tina Thomas: Ronnie and I were born and raised in Oxford and graduated from Ole Miss. We couldn’t wait to get out of Oxford so when we graduated we moved to Memphis, New York City, Dallas and then back to the Memphis area. However, no matter where we lived our house has always been decorated in Ole Miss Red and Blue. Four years ago, we decided that we couldn’t wait until retirement to move back to Oxford, so we built a house and moved back. Melissa graduated from Ole Miss and lives in Hernando and Pam is an honorary graduate and also lives in Hernando. Most of the others live here in Oxford.
HottyToddy.com: What is the game-day menu, typically at the Tailgaters With Attitude tent?
Tina Thomas: It varies each week. The hostess for the game decides the theme such as Mexican, Cajun, BBQ, etc. The only constant is chicken tenders.
HottyToddy.com: Describe the most humorous incident that comes to mind?
Tina Thomas: A few years ago we all dressed up in 60’s and 70’s outfits for the game nearest Halloween. We had some interesting costumes.
HottyToddy.com: What about any other memorable moment?
Ronnie Thomas: One of my most memorable moments was the Tennessee game in 2009 when we celebrated my 50th birthday. Many friends came to celebrate with me so it was a great day that only got better when I heard the pipes of a Harley Davidson and looked up to see my oldest son, Cameron, riding a bright red Road King Harley down the sidewalk to our tent. You can’t beat that memory!
HottyToddy.com: Your permanent residence (and the other regulars) is where?
Tina Thomas: Most of us live in Oxford now, with some of us living in Hernando.
HottyToddy.com: Do any of you have second homes in Oxford?
Tina Thomas: Before moving back to Oxford permanently, we purchased a condo as a second home. We still have the condo, and our youngest son is living there. The others who live out of town have a second home in our home.
HottyToddy.com: Your view on the rules and regulations for setting up
tents on Game Day? (if applicable)
Ronnie Thomas: When we first started tailgating you didn’t need as many rules and regulations but now with the growth of the University without rules and regulations it would be a nightmare to set-up. We still set-up on own tents because we have so many and it works fine. We do like that you can get in earlier on Friday nights versus when it used to be 9:00 p.m.
HottyToddy.com: If Ole Miss were to change anything about the tailgating experience, what would you recommend?
Ronnie Thomas: We enjoy the experience so much that I can’t think of anything that needs to be changed.
HottyToddy.com: How early in the week do you start preparing for the Saturday event?
Tina Thomas: I send an email out to the group on the Monday before the game with food assignments based on the theme for that week.
HottyToddy.com: How do you divide the duties among the participants?
Tina Thomas: As discussed earlier, each family hosts a game and decides the theme. Melissa, Pam and I are the main hostesses since we started the tradition.
HottyToddy.com: What is your zenith enjoyment from all of this work?
Tina Thomas: I think we all enjoy the time with family and friends. It’s a family tradition that will be transitioned to the next generation. Melissa, Pam, Ronnie and I are looking forward to the day where we show up with our coolers after the set-up, visit, eat and go home before the breakdown begins.
HottyToddy.com: Thank you Ronnie and Tina for sharing your story!!
Enjoy our previous Tailgating Traditions Stories from this season!
Jeff Hamm is a HottyToddy.com writer. He can be reached by clicking HERE.