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Hail to the Chiefs

Local football fan wears his passion on his van

Staff writer

For those of the Kansas City faithful, there has been a new stronghold of Chiefs’ fandom around Marion this year.

Owner Kevin Burkholder is a lifelong fan and season ticket holder since 1991, but the red and gold behemoth is a recent addition

Burkholder originally saw the van over in Wichita this summer, which piqued his interest.

It was not the first Chiefs-themed van Burkholder looked at, but he was won over because others he saw were not pre-finished.

“By the time you started getting some estimates on getting it painted and getting everything on it, the cost jumped up pretty quickly,” he said.

The van was originally a shuttle for airport use, but the previous owner bought it from a company in Chicago to use for tailgating parties.

In addition to the vehicle, Burkholder got a set of team throw pillows, a flagpole, and even a microwave free.

One of the Chiefs accessories to generate the most buzz was not from the van, but Carlson’s Grocery. After the store finished its preseason promotion, Burkholder was allowed to take a cardboard cutout of mascot KC Wolf, which drew attention at the stadium and on Facebook at a recent home game.

“My wife posted some pictures,” he said. “People were asking how we got KC Wolf to come to our tailgate party. It really did look real in the pictures.”

After Burkholder knew he wanted the van, the biggest concern was whether it could handle the trip.

“It’s a 350-mile roundtrip,” he said. “We wanted to make sure we had something that was dependable and not going to leave us hitchhiking on the side of the road.”

There are sacrifices, like leaving Marion at 5 a.m. on game day, and getting eight miles per gallon, but Burkholder thinks they’re worth it.

The Burkholders and their crew draw more than a few for games, tailgating with between 15 and 30 people.

“There are a lot of other people from Marion who go to the game,” Burkholder said.

He hasn’t taken the van to every game this season, but it has made coping with weather conditions easier at the four he did attend.

“We had our grill and stuff underneath the tent, and the women sat inside the bus while it rained so they didn’t have to get wet,” he said.

Even if Kansas City makes it all the way, he won’t be taking the van to Atlanta. Burkholder has entertained the thought of the Chiefs in the Super Bowl, but the trip is too far for the van, he said.

While Burkholder is excited about the team’s play so far, he is aware the situation can quickly turn for the worse.

“There have been so many times I thought we were going to the Super Bowl, so I hate to jinx it,” he said.

Last modified Nov. 14, 2018

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