KNOXVILLE, Tenn. — The first Tennessee home football game is something vol fans look forward to every year, but for some tailgaters, it's an emergency situation.

The Edwards family is serious about their pre-game festivities.

"Pretty much I thought he was joking," Jesse Edwards, a student at Pellissippi Community College, admitted.

To Jesse Edwards' dad Michael Edwards, tailgating is no laughing matter.

"It just got to be so much to carry, so it's like let's put everything in one big vehicle," Michael Edwards explained.

In fact, he is dead serious. That "one big vehicle" he's referring to is an ambulance.

Tennessee Tailgate Unit

Or as Ray Hatfield, Michael Edwards' father-in-law likes to call it, "The Vol Mobile."

The "Tennessee Tailgate Unit," as the stickers on the side call it, is an actual ambulance.

"Everything still works on it," Michael Edwards said. "The sirens work, we flash orange and white lights."

The back doesn't have patients. Just pigskin seats, speakers and a fold-out TV.

"No blood, but definitely bleed orange," Michael Edwards exclaimed.

For Hatfield, tailgating is his lifeline.

"This will be my forty-ninth year," Hatfield noted.

He's never missed a game at the stadium.

"It's been difficult, but I've made it," Hatfield laughed.

He doesn't plan on missing a game any time soon.

"Probably as long as I'm alive and can make it," Hatfield shrugged.

He hitches a ride in "The Vol Mobile."

"It's comfortable and easy," Hatfield assured. "So I don't have to do it myself anymore."

He sets up in the same spot every year, right across from where the Pride of the Southland Band sets up, near the Track and Field Center.

"There's restrooms around here, it's not very far from the stadium, and it's a good place to tailgate," Hatfield motioned. "[It's] got shade, so we enjoy it."

There's no big orange emergency calls.

"Yeah we don't have to worry about traffic," Michael Edwards admitted.

But this family is not complaining.

"Even though it's got a big power T on the front of the hood, people still get out of the way and we go right by," Michael Edwards smiled.

It took this family about four summers to completely scrape off the old ambulance stickers and re-do the inside.

The University of Tennessee also gave them special permission to use the official Power T on board.


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