INDIAN RIVER COUNTY, Fla. — A group of residents from the Indian River Estates retirement community were decked out in red Friday night to support the Vero Beach High School football team.
But Friday's visit to the football stadium wasn't a one-time event.
Residents have been loading up on a bus and coming to the football games for about 25 years!
For Friday's homecoming game against Martin County, the community members set up a special tailgating party to show off their school spirit.
Just before the Indians took the field, players came by the tailgating party to give them high-fives and thank them for their support.
For some residents, like Judy Schorner, it's a family tradition dating back to the 1970s.
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"It's a lot of fun because we laugh, we cry if they lose, which they don't. We eat together and just cheer them on," Schorner said. "My brothers played there, my brother and my husband's, my two children graduated from Vero Beach High School, two grandchildren graduated from high school there, and my daughter is a counselor."
For others, like Lee Mcgow, the Fighting Indians are an adopted team. He moved to Vero Beach from Philadelphia a few years ago.
"This football team and all of the fans they get, it's just very heartwarming to see how spirited everybody is," Mcgow said.
The team and the residents form a special bond throughout the season. The players had dinner with residents of Indian River Estates before the season began and keep in touch with them.
"It starts at the beginning of the season," Indian River High School head football coach Lenny Jankowski said. "We go have dinner with them at their place, so to see them come to our place and have a little tailgate, puts a smile on my face. They give me ideas from time to time and our players get to know them as well, so it's a win-win for everybody."
The residents say the bonds they build are like having dozens more grandchildren to be proud of.
"These players are our grandchildren's age, so this is really quite a unique experience," Mcgow said. "We can transfer or translate that experience to them, and they don't know how warm that makes us feel. There's always going to be a generational connection between the students at Vero Beach and the residents at Indian River Estates."