A week after losing a 20-13 heartbreaker at Kentucky, No. 20 UF hosted Vanderbilt Saturday for homecoming and a group of three families was on hand to cheer the Gators on.
This fall Mainstreet Daily News profiles a group of Gator fans tailgating for each UF home game. These fans will claim the honor of Mainstreet’s TailGators of the Week.
Have someone you would like to nominate? Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
TailGators of the Week 4 vs. Vanderbilt:
The Nimnichts, Doziers and Thompsons—all from Jacksonville— were cooking sausage and eggs three hours before the noontime kickoff for the homecoming game.
The group included Ed Nimnicht, Emma Nimnicht, Anne Nimnicht, Lee Nimnicht, little Lee Nimnicht, Paul Dozier, Lauren Dozier, Bradley Dozier, Dean Thompson, Kaylee Dozier
How did you become a Gator fan?
“I’ve been coming down here for over 60 years,” said Ed Nimnich, whose family has owned Nimnicht Chevrolet in Jacksonville for nearly a century. “My dad became associated with the University of Florida back in 1941. And I can remember my grandparents taking us to games.”
Anne was born and raised in Gainesville and graduated from GHS.
“My daddy taught here and then he became mayor,” said Anne. “We lived about five blocks down on 21st and 4th. People would come and park at our house.”
What are your favorite Gator memories?
With so many years of seeing the ups and downs of Gator football, Ed said it was hard to pick a particular game, but he did point out the turning point for the UF program.
“Obviously when [Steve] Spurrier came aboard, he did a terrific job of not only changing the University of Florida here, he was instrumental in changing the SEC to be more the ‘fun and gun’ type deal that he incorporated,” Ed said.
“I think he made a big change in the course of UF. He’s still a Gator no matter what you do to him. Even when he was at South Carolina [as a head coach], he was still a Gator.”
Another thing that stands is seeing how much has changed at UF over the years.
“Obviously we’ve seen a lot of changes,” Ed said. “I remember when you just had the wood planks you sat on.”
And the stadium was much smaller too.
“From where we sat, you could see the whole campus,” Anne said. “And then they added all those seats and now you just see the inside of the stadium.
Do you have special items or rituals you have for game day?
Ed said they don’t do anything special on game days other than, “We’re just here.”
“Some of us walk down to the Gator Walk when they started that,” Anne said. “Other than that, we just visit.”
The tailgating areas have also changed.
“Over the years, we had a motorhome that my brother bought that we used to bring down,” Ed said. “We called it the ‘Big Green Machine’ and we used to park it in Lot One before they got rid of all the motorhomes there and had them park in another place.”
Anne laughed and said the other nickname for the motorhome was, “Key lime pie.”