We’ve been barnstorming Taranaki the past few days with the Eagles, the Marine Corps Pacific Forces Band, my colleagues from the Embassy, and a robust contingent of American expats and Kiwi friends. If you’ve been watching TV or reading the papers, you’ve probably seen pictures of our parade through New Plymouth, various school visits, the rock ‘n roll unit of the Band playing at the International Showcase, and outdoor concerts.

We planned as well to introduce New Plymouth to the venerable American cultural touchstone known as the tailgate party. Staged from the backs of our cars and pick-up trucks in the parking lots of sports stadiums, tailgate parties are exuberant communal social events before the start of sports matches. Sometimes the parties are so good that people don’t even go into the game.

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Because the weather was a bit dodgy before the USA/Ireland match, we moved the party indoors to the TSB Showplace. We served piles of hamburgers, hotdogs, coleslaw, freedom fries, potato salad, homemade apple pie with ice cream, and other American delicacies. Beer and wine flowed freely (but responsibly). And the party unit of the Marine Band entertained us with dixieland and rock ‘n roll selections.

When the weather cleared a bit we moved out onto the balcony of the theater so that we could better serenade our friends from Ireland, who were demurely sipping non-alcoholic cordials and quietly discussing Proust under a tent a half block away. Our singing, trumpeting, and dancing started to draw a fun crowd on the street below, including an unexpected brigade of Uncle Sams, before we had to pack things up to dash to the stadium for the game, where the Marines also performed.

The first graphic above clicks through to a short snippet from the balcony phase of the tailgate party. The second graphic is a slideshow of photos from the event. In both cases, just a taste from early in the proceedings.

We’ll be returning to the TSB Showcase on Thursday before the USA/Russia game … with more American food, drink, music, and camaraderie. If you’re in the CBD, listen for music, laughing, and cheering in the air. Go Eagles.