Notre Dame kicks off its home opener this weekend against Marshall in a 2:30 game. This game means Notre Dame and the surrounding South Bend/Mishawaka area (you too Granger) will welcome thousands of fans and alumni back to the sacred soil for our fall rituals.
Tailgating is synonymous with college football gamedays unlike any other sport across the country. Every school’s fanbase has its own unique traditions and annual events that encompass the tailgate partying of the day, and Notre Dame is no different.
The difference with Notre Dame, however, is that there is almost too much to do and see — as well as getting stuffed with food and buzzed with the finest booze. A fan could go to every single home game during the season and get a vastly different tailgate experience each time.
I’ve been going to games for over 25 years, and I love the fact that I can look back at all the different ways I’ve handles the leadup to the game. Even now as I’m up there to cover games, my routine always seems to have a nice mix of old and new.
My favorite tradition right now is pretty basic, but it’s the perfect mix to get me ready for the game. Usually I park over at Innovation Park, and make the long trek over to the Grotto to light a candle. The walk over gives me a chance to soak in the sights and smells (the food not the people — although, who knows) and I start to immerse myself into the day’s event. After the Grotto, I head over to Purcell to pick up my press credentials, and then up to the press box to drop off my stuff. After a couple of minutes of taking in the beauty of that view — I’m back outside the stadium and make journey over to our freinds at Pole 3. Mark usually has the PBR tall boys waiting for me, and I’ve never been someone to turn down any whiskey or bourbon put in front of me. This is a great spot to be, and some of the best Twitter follows and loyal OFD readers hang here for most of the day.
At some point I wander back into the stadium to do my job — and just a wee bit happier for it.
It’s a pretty simple tradition, but that’s what’s great about decades of making the journey — it doesn’t have to be complicated or crazy to be absolutely perfect.
But what about you? What’s your favorite tradition? What’s your favorite place to go on campus? What’s your favorite sidedish dripping with Duke’s mayo (the guac)?
Give me your story, however long or short.