10/3/09: Hello, my name is Christian. My wife Stacy & I are the ‘brains’ behind BigFatTailgateParty.com. We had been to dozens of events around New Jersey in the past, Football, Baseball, Hockey, Concerts, you name it, we’d done it. It wasn’t until we travelled out to Ann Arbor, MI that we realized we hadn’t seen tailgating done right, until we got there.
I have been a Michigan Wolverines fan(atic) since the early 90’s. I’ve been though the good and the bad in that time, and could not wait to experience ‘the Big House’ first hand back in 2006. We really didn’t know what to expect, but let’s just say that we planned poorly for our first tailgate in A² (Ann Arbor for those not in the know).
So, we map out our trip, print out the directions (didn’t have GPS yet) and set off from New Jersey around 8:00 Friday morning for the game on Saturday. It was the first week of November in 2006 and was still relatively warm in New Jersey. A couple pit stops later and we had finished the 10 hour drive and checked into our hotel. We dropped off our stuff and headed out to drive around and see what we could find. It had already been dark for an hour or two at this point, and not even realizing it, all of a sudden we looked out the window, and we were at the foot of Michigan Stadium. I was in awe, we had made it! We stopped the car right in the middle of the street and got out to snap a couple of quick pictures. It nearly brought me to tears..all I could do was look at Stacy and thank her for planning the trip. That’s right, she was the one who bought the tickets, booked the hotel and surprised me with the trip..it was amazing and we hadn’t even seen the game yet. We continued into town for a bite to eat and walk around a little before heading back to the hotel to get ready for Gameday.
We had planned on getting up around 8:00AM to get into the parking lot by 9:00AM for a 12:00 game. That was mistake #1. Around 5:30AM, we hear bottles & ice clinking around in several coolers in the room next to us. At this point, we decided it might be a good idea to get up and be ready to go a lot sooner than we had planned. So we were out of the hotel by 7:00AM and into the parking lot by 7:30AM. We were shocked at how many cars were already there, we ended up in the 3rd row of the High School lot. (If you’ve ever been there, you know what we’re talking about). So we pay our $30, park and start to get ready. We opened the back of the car and took out our cooler, (notice I said cooler, singular). That was mistake #2. Since we were planning on getting there later, we hadn’t brought much to eat, literally a couple of PB&J & Cold Cut sandwiches and about a dozen beers. People already had their grills going, stock pots cooking chili (I’ll get to that one later) and separate coolers just for their refreshments. Needless to say, we had underestimated the level of dedication these people went to for their ‘Maize & Blue’.
After about an hour, we decided to take a walk around and head up to the stadium to take some pictures and see what the vendors on the corner had to sell. As I mentioned, it was still warm in NJ when we had left, and when we had first gotten to the parking lot, I guess the adrenaline had fooled us into thinking it was warm there too. That was mistake #3. Sneakers, jeans and a long sleeve T (maybe a sweat shirt) was the extent of our cold weather gear. It now started to click why we saw people wearing jackets & cooking chili in the parking lot and why the M-Den had gloves, knit caps & winter jackets for sale. Good thing they did, cause we got two of everything we could get our hands on.
Gametime: We head into the stadium and find our seats. Luckily they can pack 100,000+ people in that place, at least that kept us a little warmer. They played a Ball St. team that gave them more than they counted on that year but came out with the win. They went on to win the rest of the games that year, until the epic showdown with Ohio State.
After the game, we head back out to the car and get ready to go grab something to eat. Although, everyone else didn’t have the same idea. Almost everyone pulled all of their tailgate gear back out and continued the party. So after some time, we were able to get out and grab a bite at Chili’s, get back to the room and get ready for the long drive back home on Sunday.
Without a doubt, one of the best times I have had in my life as evidenced by the fact that we have gone to the season opener for the last 3 years straight, and hope to keep doing so for years to come.
So what is BigFatTailgateParty.com? Firstly, it’s an opportunity for us to share some our experiences with similar minded people who love to tailgate. Second, it’s a platform for others to share their events with us. Lastly, we hope to provide content & links to anything & everything that is Tailgating; resources, products, promotions, thoughts & ideas. Got something you want to share with us? Go for it, we welcome anything that is thrown at us!
Christian & Stacy