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250 Windsorites raising money for local youth at Detroit Lions tailgate

Seven generators, a 75-inch big screen TV and a few barbecues are helping fuel a Detroit Lions tailgate party for 250 Windsorites benefiting a good cause.

It’s an American Thanksgiving tradition that started 20 years ago with just seven guys looking to enjoy football and the surrounding atmosphere. Now, it’s evolved into a big event where those involved hope to raise $30,000 for two non-profit organizations in Windsor-Essex.

The Canadians will be stationed at a reserved spot in the Eastern Market in Downtown Detroit for most of the day Thursday near Ford Field.

“It makes us feel great, it really does,” said organizer Sal Albano. “We’re investing back in our youth, which frankly evolves in becoming part of the community as they get older.”

American Thanksgiving tailgate to benefit Canadian youth

A group of 250 Windsorites crossed the border into Detroit for a football tailgate and hope to raise $30,000 to support local youth

This is the first time the group has resumed its annual party since COVID-19 began. Three years ago they raised $24,000 for the Bridge Youth Resource Centre and the youth breakfast program with the United Way Windsor-Essex.

“There’s a big need for our youth in Windsor-Essex. There’s a lot going on with mental health and homelessness and both organizations are addressing that in a very, very real way so we’re excited about that,” said Albano.

For the last 10 years, Windsorites hosting a Detroit Lions tailgate have been raising money for local youth. (Sal Albano)

Albano and brothers John and Abe Friesen organize the event and said they’ll be supporting the same charities this year.

A lot of preparation goes into planning the tailgate event, including purchasing enough food and drink for 250 Windsorites for the day. (Sal Albano)

Planning for such a large event is no small feat.

A small group sleeps in Detroit overnight Wednesday and is setting up by 6 a.m. at the Eastern Market.

Windsor band Stiletto Fire will also be playing while they serve breakfast, lunch and post-game grub. Albano always remembers Americans drooling over the classic Canadian breakfast sandwiches they serve with egg, sausage and peameal bacon.

The tailgate is also named after John’s son Ryan, who died a few years ago at the age of 18. Most of the core group also has children, which they say underscores their commitment to help local youth with the money they raise.

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