Rick Serafin (left) and brother Eddie Serafin greeting the group at Friday night's bar crawl.
If you can't be in Buffalo for the party, bring the Buffalo party to you.
That's the philosophy Rick Serafin had in mind when planning a full weekend of parties, tailgates and other events to welcome the Bills and their devoted fans to Arizona.
Serafin, a Dunkirk native and lifelong Bills fan, sprung into planning mode as soon he saw the away game at the Cardinals on the schedule. "If I can't move back there I'll bring part of Buffalo to me," he said.
And that he did, in a big way.
The first order of business was to recruit – and the final tally proves this wasn't an issue. He estimates that close to 5,000 Bills fans will be at Sunday's game and his planned pre-game events, some from as far away as Australia.
"We've been coordinating with groups from Mexico, Colorado, San Diego, Canada – all over the place," Serafin said. "A friend that arrived Thursday said half of his jet was full of Bills fans."
Serafin, along with his brother Eddie and their friend Brian Coger, even worked out discounts for Bills fans at hotels near the stadium, and he says they sold out every hotel nearby.
Next came the event planning. The weekend kicked off with a bar crawl on Friday night at the Westgate Shopping Center. The dress code was, of course, Bills attire, and the crawl started at the appropriately named Shout! House.
With no rest for the weary partiers, Saturday morning brought a tour of the Cardinals' stadium, that in true Arizona fashion was followed by a golf tournament. Bills alum J.D. Hill was there to hit the links with the fans.
Tired yet? We're far from over. The marathon weekend continued with a 500 person party at Taps bar, including VIP attendees Hill, Mark Maddox, and Andre Reed. With generous donations from Western New York staples like Chiavetta's, Charlie the Butcher, Duff's, Jim's Steakout, Mighty Taco, and many more, Serafin and his team put together a massive raffle for the Saturday night party, with all proceeds going to Andre Reed's Over the Middle Foundation.
"We couldn't have done this weekend without help from back home," Serafin said. "Buffalonians have generous hearts."
Generous hearts, and an undying love for their team - which brings us back to the reason for the weekend: Buffalo Bills football.
Though he says the tailgate is nothing compared to what you'll find in the parking lots of Orchard Park, Serafin's crew will host two tailgate parties complete with Sahlen's hotdogs before the massive group heads into the stadium. With nearly 5,000 Bills fans in five sections, look for a Buffalo presence during Sunday's game. "We're going to be loud," he said. "You'll notice we're there."
Coordinating this Buffalo party weekend was a huge task, so what drove these three former Buffalonians to take on the responsibility of organizing this enormous event? Their simple answer won't surprise you. They did it for the love of the Bills.
Said Serafin, "We did it for the love of the team, the love of the area. It's in your blood."
Explore the website they created for this weekend to learn more and see post-event pictures.