As we approach the beginning of the NFL football season, it is important to consider all aspects of an NFL game. Part of the experience is the tailgate party. And, the fans of the Cleveland Browns are professionals at the tailgating experience. They start as soon as the lots open.
In the world of tailgating there are haves and have-nots–the serious party folks and the Joe Six-pack crowd. A few years ago, the Cleveland Plain Dealer described the best of them at http://www.cleveland.com/pdq/index.ssf/2008/09/browns_tailgate_parties_can_be.html Check it out. I am more a Joe Six-pack guy, but I wouldn’t mind being invited to the heated RV parties late in the year.
There is also the team party. The Browns hold an official tailgate party beginning two hours before game time at the northern enclosure of the stadium. http://cleveland.about.com/od/clevelandbrowns/p/brownsstadium.html I have never paid attention to this one, but many people go there and have a good time. It saves time and effort if you don’t want to prepare your own party.
You cannot tailgate on your own in all the parking areas. Like other stadiums, in certain ones it is permitted and in others it is not. Check the link for Browns Stadium parking for a lists of lots and their rules. http://www.clevelandbrowns.com/stadium/parking.html
Now, let’s break down the elements of a successful tailgate.
First, and this is no surprise, you start with a beer. Beers are serious business in Cleveland. I prefer cans simply because cans don’t break when you drop them on the pavement. Any brand of beer will do at a tailgate, but for a working class team like Cleveland, I vote domestic. Cleveland is not a pinky in the air crowd. Drink Bud, Miller or others like them unless you want to risk being mistaken for a Bengals fan.
Second is the food. You must have a grill. It does not need to be high quality; it needs to get hot enough to cook raw meat. You will see everything from the miniature grills that someone bought at Walgreen’s on the way to the parking lot, to the very expensive propane models that can cook a whole turkey in an hour. It doesn’t matter what you use; it is the party that counts.
The best food, and the most popular food, is hot dogs and hamburgers. You will see people with steaks and other grilled meats, but in Cleveland, game food is the best food. Make mine medium.
Third, you need a place to sit. In the early games when the freezing wind off the Lake is less likely, lawn chairs are sufficient. Later in the season (assuming real winter ever returns), an RV is the winner. You need a place to avoid the wind and other elements. It gets very cold in Cleveland.
Fourth, be social. To be an active member of your party, and friendly to the others, makes for a better experience. It is good to make friends in the pregame hours. I always thought that this was one of the best parts. You may not remember the game when it ends, but you will remember who you partied with.
If you tailgate at the official party of the team, start your own or join a friend’s, you can have a great time at tailgating at a Cleveland Browns game.
I have been a Cleveland Browns fan since birth. I remember when my father took me to my first game in 1968. I don’t remember who they played, but I have convinced myself the Browns won. With the Browns, it is the experience of being part of that city and that team. It was so darn cold that day. I cannot forget that. But, the wind and the snow are part of the experience of being a Browns’ fan.
(If you are a true Browns fan, you should know their fight song. http://voices.yahoo.com/the-cleveland-browns-fight-song-6531940.html You probably did not know they had a fight song, did you.)