If you’re tailgating in Lot 14 (the South lot) outside of Raymond James Stadium, you can’t miss Bucs fanatic Nelson Kallis. This die-hard fan has been a devoted tailgater at Buccaneers games for over 20 years. Nelson is a season ticket holder and has never missed a game. “I can remember when parking only cost $5,” he laughed.
Nelson typically has a crew of 10 to 16 people that come out to his tailgate parties. They crowd under a Bucs tent and enjoy some of the usual tailgate party foods like hamburgers, hotdogs and chicken fajitas. A pair of speakers blast out dance music for passersby as much as for Nelson’s crew.
The most distinctive thing about Nelson’s tailgate party, however, is his collection of decorations. He covers his SUV with Bucs-themed towels, flags, wind socks and decals. Around his SUV are even more creative and unique decorations like inflatable football players and home-made “Bucs.” “I just try to find things that are unique. Some of these things were bought inside the stadium but they don’t make them anymore. Some of these things, I make or my wife makes,” Nelson said. One of his most popular decorations is the “dancing Buc,” shown in this video, that was made by his wife. The dancing Buc was originally a dancing skeleton that was used as a Halloween decoration. Nelson’s wife created the vest made out of Buccaneers fabric and added the bandana, feather boas, pirate hat and other details. A stone’s throw away from the dancing Buc is another pirate skeleton chilling in a lounge chair, wearing a Bucs jersey and bandana. Nelson’s gimmick is to add a new decoration every year. This year, he added a pirate ship mast made out of PVC pipes and hoisted a Buccaneers flag.
Not surprisingly, Nelson is very popular in the South lot. Both Bucs fans and visiting fans stop and pose for pictures with him and with his SUV. Always smiling, he welcomes anyone and everyone who wants to check out his growing collection. If you are ever in Lot 14, look for the craziest car surrounded by even crazier people, and you will find Nelson Kallis in the thick of it all.
Amanda Mole has been writing since she was old enough to hold a pencil. As a Tampa Bay resident for the past 21 years, she is well acquainted with the area and the football. Her work can be found at Examiner.com.