For the past couple of weeks, large and faithful groups of Rutgers football fans have been preparing for the upcoming season in an unusual manner, unless you’ve participated in their fall rituals: Tailgate Season! Right now, all across the Tri-State area, fans are checking supplies, looking over equipment, and preparing menus for their annual pilgrimage to one of the lots that mere fans think of as parking lots. To tailgaters, they are the seven best parties of the year!
Of course, tailgating is not merely something that happens at Rutgers. College and professional teams across the country all have their version of tailgates, with varying degrees of success. According to those who measure such things, tailgates at SEC, ACC, and other Big Ten schools have a large percentage of the best ones.
Those of you who know me know that I am a solid and faithful participant in this fall ritual. I am also feverishly preparing for my treks to High Point Solutions Stadium and the annual get-togethers with my family and friends. Some of them I bring along with me, some are those who I have come to know and love from being at the tailgates each fall.
For the past two years, I have shared some of those tailgate parties with the readers of On the Banks, with a “Tailgater of the Week Award” given to a worthy tailgate group. The good news is there is little chance of running out of worthy candidates for the title. I have shared stories about some who have been doing it for 20-30 years, those who use it as a fundraiser for area charities (with a live band!),
those who have been coming since they were students and their children, who are now the students, come each year,
and even someone who bought a used firetruck and turned it into a Rutgers firetruck and tailgating vehicle.
There’s no right way to tailgate, just like there’s no right way to have a party at your house. Everyone has their own way of doing it, and every group has their own special ornament that makes them stand out from others. Whether is is a sign, decorations
or a statue, Rutgers fans know how to tailgate. There are tailgates with multiple grills, ones that are catered, people coming with their recreational vehicles, multiple families, old friends, costumes, even a sit-down Thanksgiving feast! It is actually amazing seeing all the different ways people celebrate, and sometimes they even go to the game!
Another positive about college (as opposed to pro football) tailgates is the camaraderie. If you wear a Giants jersey at the Link in Philly, or an Eagles jersey at Met Life Stadium, you know you will face challenges from the home team fans. That isn’t the case in college football.
My experience has been that visiting team fans are welcomed and embraced by the Scarlet Knight faithful. In fact, most tailgaters I have met are happy to see their compadres and invite them to join them at their tailgates.
The size of the tailgates vary wildly as well. Whether your tailgate a calm, sedate group,
or a big party,
everyone accepts everyone, and it is a great time each and every game.
As we get ready for the coming season, On the Banks is reaching out now to the tailgaters among our readers. If you have a special event that is part of one of your tailgates, let us know. If possible, we would love to share your event with our readers. Maybe it is a family get-together, a reunion of friends from long ago that are gathering at one of the games, or a celebration of a special event, we’d love to hear about it, and if possible, share your special day with our readers. Reach out on Twitter and let us know about your event, and we will see if we can share your story with our readers.
Finally, how many of you have participated in some Rutgers tailgates? We’d like to know. Fill in the survey below, and we can all see whether we have a big tailgating contingent among our readers. If you’re a veteran tailgater who never misses a game, I’m sure you are anxious to get going. If you’ve never tailgated before, give it a shot. I’ll bet you have a great time, and meet some interesting people as well. Enjoy, and don’t forget, National Tailgating Day is September 1!
Do you tailgate at Rutgers home games?
This poll is closed
Never miss a game, no matter the weather!
When the weather is nice, I tailgate.
Maybe once a season I tailgate.
I’ve done it a couple of times.
I sometimes go to friend’s tailgates, but I don’t have my own.
I never have, but I may try it now.
Never done it, never will.