Top 10 Penn State Tailgating Tips
Courtesy of Penn State
There are a couple of things you need to know to make your tailgate a success. Here are some tips, courtesy of Penn State Guide.
1. Traffic Sucks.
There is simply no other way to put it. 100,000 people are squeezing into a 500 acre tailgating area. Combine that with the fact that route 322 is really the only highway into and out of State College and you get traffic jams. The best way to avoid traffic problems is to get the tailgate early. How early? For a 12:00 game you need to be parked by 9:00 am or earlier. For a 1:00 pm start you should be parked by 9:00 am. For a 4:00 pm game you really want to be in your parking spot by 9:15 am. Night games are a different story. For a 7:00 pm or 8:00 pm start you can safely arrive by noon and beat the traffic. Also if you are aiming to be in a certain tailgating lot (for instance the family friendly lot or a specific lot where you will be meeting friends), consult the tailgating map below to make sure you arrive by the correct route for that specific lot. If you arrive the wrong way there is zero chance that you will get to the lot you are aiming for.
2. Buy your parking pass before game day.
Parking cost $40.00 on game day. If you buy your parking pass before game day it only cost $15.00. You can buy your parking pass online but you need to do this a week before game day to allow time for shipping. If you know a student at Penn State (and almost everyone that tailgates knows at least one) have them buy it for you at the Bryce Jordan Center a day or two before the game. Just remember to get the parking pass before you leave for the tailgate. There is nothing worse than buying a $15.00 parking pass and then buying a $40.00 pass on game day because your forgot to bring the parking pass.
3. Bring plenty of ice, or dress in layers.
Football season covers two climates at Penn State. The weather for late August and September games is often beautiful. Sure everyone knows how nasty and cold it is at Penn State once the weather changes. But it's easy to forget that the weather usually stays very nice until early October. September in Happy Valley is very nice and occasionally very warm. There is nothing worse than reaching into the cooler after the game a pulling out a nice warm beer. So bring plenty of ice. On the other hand if it is a late October or November game, dress in plenty of layers. Sure you have to peel off a few layers if the weather is warm, but don't count on it. November games are usually cold and windy, so dress accordingly. Nothing makes a tailgate more miserable than being colder than the beer. For the Blue White game in April, either "plenty of ice" or "dress in layers" can apply as early spring weather at Penn State is always uncertain.
4. Bring cans or aluminum bottles not glass bottles.
PSU official tailgating rules prohibit glass bottles. I have never seen anyone tossed out of the tailgate lots for glass bottles but you don't want to be the first. You probably drove a long way and it would be stupid to have glass bottles ruin the day. So don't take a chance and bring cans. If you don't like drinking beer from a can then bring red solo cups. And bring plenty because if your like me it's hard to remember which red cup is yours, especially if you've had a few. Kegs have also been prohibited for over twenty years. I really don't understand why. I have never heard of anyone getting cut on a broken keg, but rules are rules. And they probably will toss you if you bring a keg.
5. No charcoal grills or fire pits.
I can remember when these were allowed and it really did help on a cold November game day. But after a few cars fires and accidental burns, charcoal grills and open fires were banned. So you need to use a propane grill. These are available at almost any decent sporting goods store with a camping department. Or you can buy one online for under $100. Not nearly as much fun as a fire pit, but trust me they will make you extinguish a charcoal grill and possibly write you a ticket as well. Since propane grills are the only option, make sure you have a spare propane tank. A full 16.4 oz propane tank will last about 2 hours. But if the tank is not completely full, you really don't know how long it will last. There is nothing worse that tossing a few burgers on the grill only to have the propane tank run out. Some people like their burgers rare, but very few people like their burgers cold and raw, so bring an extra propane tank.
6. Bring a
distinctive flag and your cell phone if you want people to find your
The tailgating fields at Penn State are huge and they are not all connected. If you arrive late, (see #1 above) you may be very, very far from where you told your friends you would be. This is a very common problem but it can be avoided. First, arrive early. Second make sure you arrive via a route that will get you into the lot you are aiming for. This is pretty simple if you consult the tailgate map below that comes with your parking pass. Third text your friends with an intersection (for example: Park Road and University Drive) or very large landmark, where they can meet you at a specified time. Then meet them and find your way back to your flag. Don't tell them to just meet you underneath your flag. This is a rookie mistake and will ensure that your friends never find you. Also make sure your flag is distinctive so you can find your way back to your tailgate. Absolutely nothing is worse that not being able to find your way back to your own tailgate. A Penn State flag is not distinctive. There are several thousand tailgates with a Penn State flag. So if you want people to find your tailgate you need a flag that is any color except blue and white. The bigger the better but a small green flag is better than a big blue and white flag.
7. Bring folding chairs, toilet paper and charge your cell phone.
These are a simple ones. Chairs are one of the things most often left at home. Believe me after an hour or two you will want to sit down. And speaking of sitting down, when you really have to go and the only option is the porta-potty don't assume there will be toilet paper when you need it. Bring your own, it's not a good time to take chances. Finally make sure your cell phone is fully charged. If you have a car charger you can charge your phone while you a tailgating. Otherwise remember to fully charge your phone before you head to the tailgate. This is critical if you are trying to meet up with friends.
8. Bring sunscreen.
This is essential for late August and early September games. Remember unless you bring a canopy there is almost no shade at the tailgates or in the game, so you can get pretty well fried on a sunny September afternoon if you don't have sunscreen. For the Blue White Game in the spring, if the weather is nice, sunscreen is a must.
9. Don't leave right after the game.
The traffic leaving can be as bad as the traffic coming in if you leave right away. Wait an hour or so and things clear out nicely. It is a lot easier navigating out of the fields after some of the tailgates have called it a day. Also when leaving the tailgate lots, follow the directions of the police and traffic control staff. They may direct you to go out a different way than you came in, but they know what they are doing. They have a lot of experience with post game traffic and believe it or not they have figured out the best way to keep traffic moving. It can be difficult to follow their directions, especially if you think you know a short cut that will get you where you want to go. But remember there are at least 5,000 other cars trying to take that same short cut, so just tough it out and drive where they direct you. Once you a few miles from the stadium and traffic has thinned out, then take the best route to get you to your destination. Be cautious with GPS directions since several two way streets are one way only after the game.
10. Enjoy the day and relax.
Let's face it you have a lot of people packed into a small area. Not everyone likes to tailgate in the same way. If beer pong isn't your thing that's fine, but if the students at the tailgate next to you are enjoying a full on game of beer pong or whatever other drinking game you can imagine, just go with it. You were young once and they only have a few years left before work and family commitments bring them back to reality.