ARLINGTON, Texas - It's no secret! El Paso is home to tens of thousands of Cowboy fans, and it's not surprising just how many people make the 12-hour drive (or short flight) from El Paso to Dallas for the big NFL football games.
Hundreds of El Paso natives flock to Arlington and Cowboy Stadium, making every effort to hang out together for the big games.
"El Pasoans tend to find each other no matter where we're at (outside of Cowboy Stadium)," said borderland native Steve Villa, who now calls Dallas home. "Most people I hang out with (at the tailgates) are from El Paso."
On one Sunday, scores of El Pasoans, almost 650 miles from their border southwest roots, met, mingled and reunited for the Cowboys showdown against the Pittsburgh Steelers.
"Once we get together, it's like being at home," said Rick Isaias. "The Dallas Cowboys game is well worth it. A 12-hour drive (from El Paso) is nothing."
David Amaste, an El Paso native who now calls Dallas home, said:, "It's an opportunity (to gather). We spend the whole week at work and doing stuff. And here, we get to spend time with the people we grew up with."
Amastae proudly sported his Cowboys beer mug with the words "El Chuco Tailgaters" on it. "El Chuco" is a nickname affectionately used by El Paso natives when referring to their hometown.
"El Chuco pride," shouted Leah Kristine Lopez, who grew up in El Paso and makes constant trips to Cowboy stadium, "Oh my God. I can't believe how many El Paso residents make it out to our tailgates. We all seem to end up together, whether inside of Cowboys stadium, or outside."
Art Maldonado, an alum of the University of Texas El Paso, adds, "it feels like we're at home. We have so many El Pasoans here (in Dallas). We all grew up cheering for the Cowboys and cheering for UTEP."
It's not uncommon to see Dallas fans like Maldonado, sport UTEP gear at Cowboy games. In fact, he makes it a point to raise a UTEP banner alongside his Cowboys flag during every tailgate.
"We're very proud of UTEP. We try to show that pride," says Maldonado.
Cowboy tailgates with this group of El Pasoans don't just include grilling burgers and hot dogs like many other football get-togethers... --Maldonado and others in his group prepare border southwest treats like "chile con queso", "tacos de carne asada", and "micheladas con clamato, chile, sal y limon."
Villa adds, apart from the tantalizing and mouth-watering draw and aroma that comes from their tailgates with a border southwest flair, another way the group of Sun City natives are able to catch the attention of others from their hometown is simple: "Our UTEP flags and tents are up so other El Paso people can see that and eat and drink with us and we all have a great time."
It's a long-standing tradition that gets bigger and bigger every year - Chuco style!