Dawgs fans, present and future, enjoy tailgate experience ahead of Georgia-Florida game

Sports

JACKSONVILLE, Fl. (WSAV) – While the matchup between #1 Georgia and Florida is set to provide plenty of fireworks on the field Saturday, the real ‘party’ in the “World’s Largest Cocktail Party” happened outside the stadium.

“I live for weekends like this,” Savannah native and UGA grad Garry Nesbit said with a smile at his tailgating spot. “It’s like we just picked it up from last year or the year before”

Nesbit wasn’t taking any chances this weekend. He got off work Friday and immediately drove down to Jacksonville to make sure he wouldn’t miss the annual tailgate tradition.

“This is the only time i see these people,” Nesbit said, gesturing to his tailgate crew. “We’ve got people from all over, Phoenix, and all over the place. it’s really nice to meet up, see everyone, have fun, and have some drinks.”

Nesbit has been tailgating with this same group of people for nearly a decade now. They consider each other family, in more ways than one.

“We got married at the 2018 tailgate,” Chris Arnold said with his wife, Erin, by his side. “Which was awesome.”

The Arnolds, friends since childhood, tied the not and watched their beloved Dawgs take down the Gators on the same day.

“I called her parents and I was like ‘Hey this is what we are thinking, are you ok with this?,” Chris remembered.

“When you know, you know,” Erin added. “We were ready to get married, so what better way to do it!”

The wedding took place at their usual tailgating spot. The railroad tracks and chain link fences surrounding the ceremony looked a little different than the typical church and steeple.

“That’s Chris and Erin’s personality,” Tracy Dice, Chris’s mother and Erin’s mother-in-law, said. “That’s what they love — they love their Dawgs, they love tailgating, and to have a good time. This is where it needed to happen.”

It turns out that Dice and Erin’s mother, Renee, had helped orchestrate the connection between their kids years ago.

“First, Renee introduced my husband and I to each other and then we were all at a wedding and said “Hey, Erin isn’t dancing with anybody and Chris isn’t danching with anybody. Me and Renee go ‘Hmmmmm’.”

The rest, was history. This year, the Arnolds brought one more person into this world of red and black — their daughter, Ellie, who experienced her first Georgia-Florida tailgate Saturday morning.

“She’s a bulldog legacy because we both went to UGA,” Erin said, pointing to Chris and herself. “My parents went to UGA. She’s just got to carry it on.”

This group of Savannah natives and UGA fans had a fluid plan on gameday. If they get a ticket, they get a ticket. If not, then surround yourself with family, friends, football and, of course, cheer on the Dawgs.

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