This post is sponsored by EA Sports NCAA Football 2011. Today we talk tailgating.
Again, the date is September 22, 1984, and on this day a group of South Florida Noles started a long standing tradition of renting a Winnebago, adorning it fully in FSU memorabilia and garnet and gold streamers, and parking it the Orange Dump as soon as the gates opened at 6 AM. We had all met at one of our friends house the night before, and partied all night so that we could be one of the first to roll into the dump grounds, where we would BarBQue all day and continue our non stop partying until the lot closed the next morning after the game. (Remember this is the 80's we are talking about here, and times were very different back then).
I parked on Consuela's and Fernando's front lawn many many many times, especailly for the Fin games. But for the UM games we would all split the cost of renting a 32' Chieftan (get it-I will always remember that brand) and parked inside the dump grounds in the RV section. Back then they used to open up the RV area very early in the morning, and many times I remember getting there night before, depending on the kickoff time, and the fuzz would let you spend the night there after the game (very good idea). It was like getting back to nature, except we were in the heart of Little Havana. But believe me, we were not roughing it at all. One friend would usually start roasting a pig a few days before, and it would always turn into a 3 day non stop party with no sleep (oh and the Heineken kegs plus a full liquor setup). Unfortunately, too many times that I care to remember, we had our hearts yanked from our chests as we suffered through some of these games, but then we knew how to dull the pain real good with the losses, and knew how to do it up right with the wins.
Florida State doesn't have the same tailgating tradition as many other schools who pack more people into smaller areas. At FSU there are pockets around campus. From the Boosters lots to the different student tailgates. During my time at Florida State I have been a member of the FSU Fishing Club, and for the past 5 years we have had our own tailgate that we throw each week. One of my friend's, and club member, is a capable welder and created a smoker that can go into and out of a truck hitch (well before Jimmy Buffett sold similar products), and we pull the smoker up early for every game day. Typically a few of us will get there about 7 hours before game time to begin the prep. We always have a cooler full of oysters, and lots of smoked meat from chicken to sausage to pork shoulder. Also, we typically will have game of some sort (always Gator for UF), and because we are the fishing club something from the ocean we have caught recently, and you know, a big shiny metal tub of liquid.
These tailgates have completely defined the FSU football experience for me over the past 5 years. I often remember games by the tailgate. From the Florida game in a torrential downpour where we just didn't care, to the blackout game where we got a police officer friend of ours to pretend to arrest one of the girls at the tailgate. Now that many have moved from Tallahassee the faces are different but the FSU Fishing tailgates will always be one of my fondest memories from my time at FSU and especially the good times that helped push through frustrating seasons.
How about you? What are your favorite tailgating traditions for Florida State? Let's compare notes.