Two of the greatest words your ears will ever hear: Football Season. Leaves fall from the trees, the fresh aroma of hotdogs and hamburgers fill your nostrils and beer upon beer quenches fans’ thirst. Sure, everyone enjoys watching burly men sack a quarterback before he bootlegs right, but the real fun happens before game time. College students thrive on their ability to creatively tailgate, especially here at the one and only Florida State University. Seminoles take their tailgating very seriously. Whether you’re aggressively drinking a Natty Light at a frat house or casually drinking a Corona at Madison Social, you can’t go wrong with these classic Seminole tailgate traditions.
1. House Party
Honestly, I find comfort in the thought of blacking out in the safety of a household rather than at a bar. Students take this into consideration here at Florida State and host parties at their apartments, houses, shacks, etc. Based out of the Panhandle, Seminoles know how to work their southern hospitality charm before kickoff. Expect to see garnet and gold on and in everything but the kitchen sink. Homemade sangria will sit chilled and ready to serve, along with a multitude of hors d’oeuvre to satisfy any craving. Whether you’re living lavish in Stadium Centre or kicking it old school at The Osceola, the party odds are in your favor.
2. RV Style
Not many people know this, but a secret RV society exists at FSU. Lots open on Friday and welcome families traveling lavishly, and RV owners bust out the charcoal and liquor bottles at sunrise on Saturday morning. “My parents drove up every home game and parked in the RV lot near Doak Campbell Stadium,” said FSU graduate Jenna Hill. “I loved being able to send game days surrounded by all my friends and family, with great food and drinks. I have Florida State University to thank for so much, and learning how to tailgate on wheels is definitely one of them.” Cross over into a foreign realm of RV lingo and instant offers of cold beverage only because you’re wearing an FSU t-shirt. Life is good for these folks as they nestle into their RVs after a long day of rooting on the Noles.
3. Madison Social
If you didn’t know, Collegetown is the end all, be all of Tallahassee, Florida. A more popular locale, Madison Social offers a place for all Seminole socialites to flock. The popular bar hosts hundreds of people every Saturday during football season, even for away games. In fact, Madison Social travelled to Orlando for the Noles spring game. Talk about commitment. Rain or shine, swarms of garnet and gold flood the walls of this Mimosa-lovers haven. “They have a ton of TV’s that allow you to keep up with other games,” VSU graduate Dylan West said. “Plus, they make my whiskey diet just how I like it.”
4. Fraternity House
This tailgate wins the award for the most popular of all, mostly because its archetypal reputation precedes itself. A raging moment on the perimeter of a fraternity house peaks when the bro’s find the opportune time to create a beer shower. Anyone within three feet braces themselves for lukewarm beer to shower down on them. From this, everyone holds on to their notions that tailgating this way equates to becoming drenched from head to toe in Natty Light, dripping in your own sweat because the maximum capacity reaches quota and watching a girl in the corner puke up everything she had to eat that day. “[Tailgating at a fraternity house] is an unparalleled tradition. Everyone has so much pride on game days and we like to show it,” said FSU junior Brian Pearson. Yeah, but how rowdy do you get Mr. Pearson? “I get rowdy when the tailgates are early in the day. I’ll wake up early to drink some beers and then go to the house and drink some more beers.” Go Noles.
5. FSU’s Intramural Fields
The green grassland on FSU’s campus offers a play area for flag-football games, soccer games or whatever game fits students’ fancies. Once Saturday arrives, the vicinity completely transforms. The lot fills up quickly with pick-up trucks and family vans. Kickoff happens at 8 p.m., but trust that loyal fans will start tailgating on the intramural fields at least 12 hours prior. Tents pop up and coolers spread out amongst the vehicles. The original tailgate party thrives here as the Seminole dwellers quite literally let their hair and their tailgates down.
6. With Your Parents
FSU’s infamous Parents’ Weekend brings forth hundreds of moms, dads, aunts, uncles and any relative imaginable. This once-a-year epic event fills up families’ itineraries with weekend programs and activities such as Happy Hour at Pots to a divine brunch on Saturday morning. FSU enforces mandatory fun leading up to kickoff. Reserve a hotel room September 30–October 1 in preparation for Parents’ Weekend 2016’s grand tailgate. Parents’ weekend showcases where you inherited your craziness. Don’t forget your parents were once college kids too, and probably did more daring things than you could ever imagine. Hard thought to conjure, isn’t it?
7. University Center Club
For those growing weary of the rowdy (sometimes smelly) tailgates, look to the University Center Club. A premier club offered by Florida State brings together alumni, families and many more. UCC schedules weekends filled with fun and food during the fall. The Friday Night Tailgate Buffet tastes just as delicious as it seems. Who wouldn’t want to indulge in a deviled egg trio followed by a cast iron seared rib eye? Oh, and all while enjoying the view of Doak. On game day specifically, the UCC ballroom presents big screen TVs displaying other games, a full bar and most importantly: air conditioning.
8. No Tailgate
I know what you’re thinking—no tailgate? However, Florida State’s notoriety for limited parking and insane game day traffic spreads through the grapevine quickly. Hearing the horrid news leaves travelers in a fluster. Arriving hours before kickoff, the family of four ends up parking on a curb with no room for activities. But have no fear, the lack of a tailgate equates to snagging the best seats in the stadium.
9. Skull Session
Fall comes screeching around the corner instigating screams and shouts as the star running-back breaks through a wave of tacklers, sprinting 45 yards to the end zone. While football players might be the stars, the Marching Chiefs are the real performers. Prior to game time, the Marching Chiefs put on a Skull Session at Dick Howser Stadium where the Chiefs pregame their own show. While programming the music into their skulls, the band also releases a sneak peek of the ultimate half-time show. “The coolest part is seeing the sections do their traditions, their respective cheers, the chants and they carry people sometimes. It gets you pumped for the game,” said Katerina Perez, FSU junior and Marching Chief.
10. Downtown Get-Down
Who says tailgates begin strictly on Saturdays? Well, no one in Tallahassee, that’s for sure. Friday night before game day, downtown Tallahassee presents Downtown Get-Down. Adams Street bursts with energy as the Seminole community gathers for a night-long pep rally. Vendors selling beer and corndogs—yum—and local bands performing from 6 p.m.–10 p.m. resonates with all garnet and gold fans. “Downtown Get-Down is a great way to kick off a game weekend…being a flyer I get lifted up above the crowd and get to watch everyone do the chop at the same time!” FSU senior Merritt Simmons said. “Seeing so many people who share the same love for FSU that I do gives me chills.” No excuse not to attend if you’re a Tally local or a loyal Seminole student. Live it up and start your tailgate a day before kick-off.