Tailgating is an outdoor activity inherently. Whether it is on grass, in an open space asphalt parking lot or on the top level of a parking structure, tailgating exposes its participants to the elements.
You’ve heard of fair weather fans? There are such things as “fair weather tailgaters”. These are people who only want to tailgate and enjoy the party when the sun is out, the air temperature is perfect and a slight cooling breeze comes and goes. Depending on the area of the country you tailgate in, those types of tailgating days are few and far between. You need to prepare for all kinds of weather and today we are going to hit on the wet stuff. That’s right. Rain.
Most everyone who has a TV or radio has heard that New Orleans and the Gulf Coast of the United States was recently hit by Hurricane Isaac. Isaac came ashore and nailed New Orleans not as hard as Katrina did seven years ago but was a slow moving system that dumped a lot of rain. This got me to thinking about rain and tailgating. Of course I am not suggesting people go out and tailgate in a hurricane but there are times when rain could ruin a tailgate party if you are not properly prepared. Here are just a few tips on being able to tailgate in the rain and still enjoy yourself.
- Gimme Shelter – It’s not just a Rolling Stones song but the first thing you should consider when planning for a wet and rainy tailgate. Most tailgaters have some sort of pop-up tent but those are mainly used for shade on sunny days. If there is a small tear or hole in the canopy on a sunny day, it is not that big of a deal. But on a rainy day, a hole or a tear could mean water pouring into your tailgate space rendering that patch of valuable real estate unusable. Because space is at such a premium while tailgating, wasting space because water is streaming down is not what you want. Because the football season is about to start, break out your pop-up tent and set it up and do a visual on the canopy. If you don’t see any visible holes, put it up all the way and then spray it with your garden hose. If you didn’t visually catch any holes or tears, this test will expose them. Good old fashioned duct tape is a cheap and easy way to fix the problem even if rain is not in the forecast for the weekend. It may not be pretty but it sure beats getting wet because your tent is leaking.
- Be Skeptical – Despite modern technology and radar systems, weather predictors are wrong as often as they are right. They are getting better but I haven’t met anyone that says they fully trust the weather man. Just because the weather report says there is a 30% chance of rain, prepare for it. Even if they say 10% chance of rain, break out the rainy day tailgating gear. Better to have it packed and ready to go and not need it than to need it and not have it.
- Know your location – Not all parking lots are created equal. Most parking lots are not 100% level and smooth. Some stadiums have dirt field parking lots they use on game days. It does not take a genius to figure out those dirt lots are the ones you want to avoid unless you want to play out a mud bog derby after the game is over. If your normal tailgating spot is not normally at the highest point in the parking lot, consider changing locations. And if you do change locations to higher ground, make sure you do two things. Tell your friends where to meet you and make sure to get there super early. More than likely you are not the only one who has the brilliant revelation that water runs downhill and if you arrive late, those higher ground spaces will be long gone. If you are doing a road game tailgate and are unfamiliar with the lay of the land at the stadium, check on TailgateWiki.com to see if there are any hints and tips on where to park. And if you are a regular tailgater with intimate knowledge about your stadium and parking areas you normally tailgate, pay it forward by updating Tailgate Wiki with your knowledge on not just rainy day tailgating but other aspects as well.
- Generate Some Common Sense – They say common sense is not all that common. One thing that is becoming more and more common is the use of portable power in the form of electric generators. We all have learned that water and electricity are not a good match so when it comes to your generator, make sure you use caution. Because generators are a double threat, typically burning gasoline and generating electricity, doing anything against the warnings of the manufacturer is highly discouraged. The manual on the generator we use says, “using a generator in wet conditions… rain… snow could result in electrocution.” Some might try and build a makeshift structure to try and keep the generator dry but this is a recipe for disaster. Generators need lots of ambient air in order to operate safely and efficiently. By putting a tarp over it could result in overheating and a possible fire. Unfortunately when the weather is wet, you may have to pass on the generator and ditch the idea to watch the early games. Better to be safe than electrocuted.
- Grill Outside – Of course you are going to be grilling outside. The whole parking lot is “outside”. By this we mean, place your grill just outside the perimeter of your pop-up tent. This way the grill is out in the rain but face it so that the Grill Sargent can still flip burgers and turn brats while staying dry under the canopy. The reason why you don’t want the grill under the canopy too is the heat created could burn a hole in your canopy. Not only might you have a fire to deal with above your head you will also now have a gaping hole in your shelter. And if that happens, please re-read bullet point No. 1.
- Change It Up – Bring a change of clothes. More than likely what you brought will get wet at some point whether it is during the set-up process of trying to get your tent up or having to venture out into the rain to hit the port-a-potty. If you have some dry clothes waiting for you before you go into the game it will revive your spirits in addition to that buzz you have been working on since noon.
- Poncho Villa – Ponchos are not terribly sexy or flattering but 100% effective in keeping you dry. Get some in your team’s colors and use them. Not only will they be useful while tailgating in the parking lot but inside the game. Unless your seats are under an overhang, more than likely you will be getting wet inside while the game is going on. Sorry, but you can’t take your pop-up tent into the game with you. We’re sure your friends seated in your row will appreciate the shelter from the rain but the people behind you won’t be able to see a damn thing on the field.
Those are our suggestions for tailgating in the rain. If you have some of your own that were not mentioned, feel free to comment below and add your own.