Football Tailgating: Thanksgiving 2012 Edition


Football Tailgating: Thanksgiving 2012 Edition

I've been tailgating at NFL football games for over twenty years now and I still can't get enough. If you've never been to a game south of the border, it's a little difficult to describe. Effectively a 4-hour pregame party for every football home game, the tailgate is something you really have to experience to appreciate. If you have the opportunity, don't pass it up!

I've been to games in a number of American cities, and I'll admit, there are definitely some that are far better than others. What you're looking for is the maximum number of people able to tailgate in a single area. In places like Green Bay or Buffalo, that have stadiums outside the heart of big cities, this can often mean a single huge parking lot surrounding the stadium. Effectively, you are grilling, and partying with 60,000 other revellers. The drinks are flowing, music's playing, people are dressed up in all their team paraphernalia, footballs, beanbags and Frisbees are being tossed—it's something to behold. In other cities you'll find various parking lots for tailgating near the stadium. It's still a lot of fun, but not quite as crazy of a scene.

This year I was invited down to Detroit to grill for about a dozen guys at the Thanksgiving football game. The National Football League puts on three games each year for the holiday. A game in Dallas, a game in Detroit and a game hosted at an alternating city. While many Americans are home preparing for a more typical Thanksgiving day, in Detroit people start to make there way to the stadium; as early as 7 or 8 in the morning. The grills get fired up, the music is pumped up and the beer starts flowing. Many fans dress in football gear, while others opt to put a holiday spin on things. Pilgrim costumes and turkey hats are both fair game. 

The tailgaters also try and out-do one another in just about every aspect of the party. All around you can find grills the size of banquet tables and food that could feed a small village. This year we even spotted a group with a tailgate hot tub on wheels!

The game itself is truly secondary to the whole thing and I would go even just for the fun of the tailgate. If you're interested—here are some ideas for doing a Thanksgiving dinner on the grill. Also, my take on the Top-5 Tailgate Must-Haves. If you like a good party, even if you aren't a football fan, I suggest you give tailgating a try. You won't regret it.