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Contributors doug zanger | creative bohemian
December 11, 2010
Corner With a “K” and the New Orleans Saints
If New Orleans is the biggest small town in the country, Scott Sparks may very well be its underground mayor.
“It really can feel like everybody knows everybody. A friend of mine moved down here from Ohio and we sit next to each other at the games. Whenever someone walks through the door and I know them, their parents or their friends, he just laughs and says, ‘You know everybody!’,” he said.
Managing rock and roll bands or selling used cars are two great ways to build your business card cache. Scott does both. “It’s a plethora - I just seem to have my hands in a lot of different things around New Orleans,” he said.
“When I was a kid, I played football, baseball and basketball. I was a big kid - but I also had a big brother. He helped me become a little more advanced with my knowledge of the games,” he said. Scott excelled on the field as a kid, collecting parish championships with a group of childhood friends that grew up loving the game. Then he got to high school and fell in love with a guitar. But football never strayed too far.
“I’ve really always been a die-hard Saints fan. That kind of came down from my dad, who’s a big LSU fan. His buddies were electrical engineers who knew every little nook and cranny about Tiger Stadium. My uncle would take me to Saints games here and there, and one day it dawned on me: every time I went, they won,” he said. Scott’s uncle expanded the ticket stub sample size. “Of course, they weren’t very good back then, so when my uncle started bringing me to more and more games, that all changed,” he said. The losing was offset by metal trays.
“We’d take the bus to Tulane Stadium and work the concession stands, selling Cokes and cotton candy. I remember the people calling out, ‘Hey, Coke man! Up here!’ - but we were really more interested in trying to watch the game,” he said.
Bigger, Better, Brotherhood
“We try to make our tailgate bigger and better every year. But it’s not just about the size or having a prime location - the guys want to make the tailgate bigger than that and give back. One of our leaders, Allan Savoy, gave his tickets for this game to a boxing coach who works with underprivileged kids,” he said.
Character. Self-control. Dedication. Boxing. Those youngsters from a rough and tumble neighborhood will get to experience the Super Dome for the very first time on Sunday. And it’s all part of the Korner Krewe’s new motto: “Tailgating With A Purpose”. “Allan is really the biggest activist for giving back to the community, working on doing things to raise funds, too,” he said. The Krewe’s Sunday gathering normally tallies around 150 people. Family, friends, friends of friends. Friends of friends of friends. Think: chain link. “Everybody’s connected in some way. And that probably goes back and ties in to what I said earlier about this city overall. But it also has a lot to do with the close-knit electrical business,” he said. Scott estimated that half of the city’s distributors call a five-block area home base. “These guys call each other all the time, building relationships for their jobs. They’re in competition all week at work - but they’re all friends come Sunday,” he said A small selection are prone to grabbing hold of the microphone. Each week, someone gives a pregame speech. And last year, the bluster blew in at a gale force clip. “With the Saints going from ‘zero to hero’, there was a lot of emotion involved. One of the guys got up and started a cheer. He had the crowd spell out ‘M-I-A-M-I’ - and when they hollered out ‘MIAMI!’, he said, ‘No - SUPER BOWL!’,” he said. The Saints were 3-0 at the time.
Pregame prognostications aren’t the only special parking lot occasion.
“Fifteen of us traveled to Miami for the Saints game last year. After they came back and won, the players rewarded all the ‘Who Dats’ who’d taken over the stands by throwing their wristbands and gloves to us. We caught Reggie Bush’s shoe - his actual shoe that went over the goal line and made the cover of Sports Illustrated when he scored,” he said. So if No. 25 is suiting up, the Korner Krewe holds vigil on the pavement.
The City That Care Forgot
Ask the Krewe if they’re nuts - they get it all the time. Allan Savoy. Reggie Davis. Charlie Fontenelle. Timmy McNabb. Jerry Schultz. Wayne Teyes. Ritchie Peltier. Adam Robinson. Whether it’s a chef like Reggie, a trivia buff like Jerry, a big fish in the LSU tailgating pond like Wayne or a TurboChill rep like Adam making a special appearance, they’ll readily reply, “Who Dat?” and carry on merrily. It comes with the territory. Sure, bandwagon fans exist. But they’re far outnumbered by the old timers who finally got their winning fix. “It’s calm, relaxed - we’re just never in a hurry like most big cities. And usually, the weather’s warm during the year. There’s parties and festivals every week. Everyone’s so friendly and you’re usually out doing things, running into people who are so passionate about this team,” he said. Taking fandom further: With an economy driven by tourism, New Orleans wants to welcome you - no matter what colors you bleed.
“We love it when fans from other cities come! We want to make them feel good, help them appreciate everything this city has to offer. They come here - and competition is a good thing - and we really appreciate it,” he said. With a small geographical footprint, warm climate and diverse, multicultural people, a sense of unification sets the scene. “It’s not a sense of people ‘not caring’ - it’s more like, ‘The neighbor’s house just burned down, we’ll help them build it back up tomorrow’. When a city’s been through so much and managed to maintain it’s beautiful love for life, that makes us unique,” he said.
Now, I know Scott isn’t the only superfan in the world with a “Man Cave”. But I’m a sucker for bulldogs.“Beefy Girl rules the cave! If she likes you, she lets you in. If not? You better pet her until she does!” he said. 12 x 24. Wall-to-wall Saints memorabilia. A 50’ flat screen. Cinder block 2 x 8s that house his retrofitted stereo system. Black walls. Gold floor adorned with the Saints insignia. And the fridge. “Right before Katrina hit, I’d bought this brand-new, expensive fridge. When we evacuated, the power was out for a couple of weeks so everything spoiled. We were told to bury everything, but come on - you dig three feet deep in New Orleans and you hit water,” he said. So Scott put the fridge out on the porch and let it dry out. Cleaned it up. Plugged it in. And the damn thing worked! He couldn’t walk away from the unique opportunity - and may now have an unrivaled beer fridge.
For a man who used to play in a rock band before finding the one woman - his wife, Angie - that he knew he just had to chase down, words like “sole”, “unequaled”, “peculiar” and “unusual” make up most of the whole nine yards.
Like corner with a “K”, Sparky’s Krewe does unique every Sunday.
Bing National Tailgating Championship - New Orleans Saints Team Interview: Scott Sparks and the Korner Krewe
Scott Sparks of the Korner Krewe chats with us about how his crew got together, the famed Cajun Football, how they stack up against the other competitors, how the New Orleans Saints are an exclamation point in people's lives after Hurricane Katrina, embracing the brotherhood of tailgating and more.
Click here to download:
Bing_National_Tailgating_Championship_-_Scott_Sparks_and_the_Korner_Krewe.mp3 (15226 KB)
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· scott sparks
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