Tailgate Parties Join Family, Friends and Football Together


Author: Richie DeMaria

A few hours before every home football game, the Patterson Field parking lot becomes a ritual ground. Big cars round up, beers crack open, smoke fills the air and the players’ hungry family and friends gather together to partake in that strange American tradition of huddling around an unlatched tailgate to have a good time. Most are the athletes’ relatives, but a sizable group of tailgaters don’t even come for the game – the real event happens here, and the unwatched game is their thin excuse.

Whether they come for the game or the pregame, tailgaters have made the Patterson Field lot home to their pregame party over the last two years and developed something of a tradition. Inspired by postgame tailgate parties meant to feed the players, a small cadre of parents decided to extend the festivities into the late afternoon. The party has grown in size ever since.

“It’s just gotten more and more intense over the years,” Andre Bates, father of Defensive Back Ayrton Bates (sophomore), said.

The tailgate party certainly brings an intense display of orange and black to the parking lot. On Saturday’s tailgate, Bates flew a Tigers flag from his huge, almost globular looking Airstream trailer, while some neighboring partiers had set up a beautiful tiger stripe table spread – tiger table cloth, tiger receptacles, and so on.

The game even brought a little maroon and gray from the opposing side. A small family of Redlands fans had set up a spot in the shade of the Rush Gym trees. “There wasn’t any room in the parking lot – it had all filled up by the time we got here,” one Redlands relative said. Devoted fans and parents followed their team wherever they went. In fact, the tailgaters came from all over – some had even made it down from Washington state.

“Like most things, it’s the people you’re there with that make tailgating fun. Its also a great way to get alum friends to come out to Oxy,” Krystal Wright (senior) said. “It’s something my friends and I do every year and something I always look forward to.”

As for the players – they get their tailgate too, courtesy of their parents. “It’s a great experience because we have the opportunity to meet the parents and families of our teammates,” Jason Lehman (senior) said. “It’s also time to reminisce about the game and celebrate the victory. Overall, its a great experience and brings a more personal dynamic.”

The game, then, brings people together. It is, if only for a few hours, the great uniter. Friends gather, teams bond and alumni return.

Anyone looking to join in on the pregame revelry can join in two or three hours before the Saturday home game – good luck finding a parking spot.

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