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What it takes to be 1st for a Broncos tailgate

Posted at 3:54 PM, Jan 17, 2016
and last updated 2016-01-17 21:22:31-05

At 8 a.m. on game day, it takes a lot more than luck to be the first tailgaters in line at Sports Authority Field.

One family has spent the last decade dedicated to getting a prime spot for pre-game fun. The Juarez family, including brothers Joe and Sonny, have been first in line for almost every single Broncos home game.

"About three or four times, somebody else came (first)," Sonny said.

For Sunday's playoff game, he said they parked their vehicles in the tailgate line on Wednesday and at least one person was with the cars the whole time.

When 8 a.m. finally rolled around Sunday morning, the family was quick to set up in their usual spot, the one closest to the stadium, and get cooking.

"People come to the tailgate, and they don’t even have tickets to the game," Sonny said. "Everybody who comes is family. We meet new friends and they become our family."

They're especially welcoming to the Denver Police officers who patrol the game. At least a dozen officers stopped by during the first few hours of the morning tailgate. It's how the Juarez family met Officer Tony Lopez Jr., the DPD officer who survived being shot during a traffic stop in December.

"Whenever he worked the game, he always was by here," Joe said. "He was one of our regulars."

Lopez's father, a DPD commander, did stop by Sunday, grabbing a bowl of pozole. He shared that his son is doing well and should be back on the job by Christmas.

The Juarez family said that while they've talked about backing off on their tradition, with the time and money it takes to keep it up, there's one thing that keeps it alive -- and it's actually not the Broncos.

"I keep going back to that word 'family,'" Sonny said. "And as a family and a Bronco family, you cant go wrong."

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