Baton Rouge is at it’s best during the LSU football season. The whole city lives and dies with the boys in Purple and Gold, and if the Tigers are winning, life is very, very good in Baton Rouge. For any Tiger fan, LSU football is more than just a game, it really is a way of life.
An integral part of the LSU football experience is “tailgating”. “Tailgating” involves spending the day cooking, eating, drinking and having a great time on the grounds and in the parking lots of the stadium on game day. By kickoff, there will be 92,000+ fans cheering on Tigers in Death Valley, but at least twice that many spend the day tailgating.
This year, The Aussie and I were lucky enough to be in Baton Rouge for the start of the LSU football season, and there was no way we were going to miss out on the party. So, on the Friday night before the home opener against Mississippi State, my sister and I drove out to LSU to pitch our tent and secure our spot for tailgating. We were there using the iPhone as a flashlight trying to work out the instructions when the guys next to us showed up with their flashlights and lanterns and 5 minutes later our tent was up. They even shared a beer with us for our troubles. Thanks guys!
The next morning we packed up our BBQ, a giant wheelie bin full of beer, and some yummy Cajun sausage and headed out for the game. Now, I have been telling The Aussie for years about tailgating, but he was completely unprepared for the party that was going on. His words were “This is bigger than the Grand Final, and it’s just a regular home game.”
The Aussie worked the BBQ like a pro in the foreground of Tiger Stadium.
After lounging under the big oak tree, eating our Cajun sausage, drinking some of Abita’s finest, and braving the port-a-pots, we started walking toward the stadium to check out the sights and soak up the atmosphere. It was electric.
Our tailgating setup was pretty basic, but some people go all out. This guy was ready to take the bodies back to Mississippi after their thrashing at Death Valley. We thought the casket would be perfect for a grill, but the inside was set up with a big screen TV and a cooler.
The ceiling fan was a nice touch for this motor home.
And, these folks were professionals with the 2 big screen TV’s and the daiquiri machine.
There was a sea of people. Purple and gold everywhere we turned.
But, we manged to find our fair share of interesting people in the mix. There was this guy…
And, my sister and I bumped into this world famous redhead.
While The Aussie had fun doing the chicken dance…
The Aussie decided to make friends with some of Louisiana’s finest. Of course it was not until we looked at the photos after that we realized the deputy had his hand on his taser the whole time.
Of course, there were the obligatory photos of my sister and her boyfriend with Mike the Tiger.
Then, it was game time. The Aussie and I headed in to Death Valley just in time to see the Golden Band from Tigerland take the field for the pre-game tradition. The Drum Major marches out in front of the band and raises his baton just before 92000+ cheering fans erupt in LSU euphoria. Back in the day, I was a flag girl with the LSU band. It was a highlight of my life to march on the field at Tiger Stadium for pregame, and amazingly, I found that I still remember the routine.
Then our fearless leader, Coach Les Miles, lead the team onto the field. Our seats were so close we could nearly reach out and touch him.
For the next 3 1/2 hours, Coach Miles and his Tigers kept us on the edge of our seats with the highs and lows of the game. The legendary Paul “Bear” Bryant once said that “Baton Rouge happens to be the worst place in the world to be a visiting team”, and Tiger fans lived up to their reputation. It was loud, loud, loud with the Golden Band from Tigerland, the cheerleaders, and Mike the Tiger whipping the crowd into a frenzy.
On this night, the LSU Tigers were victorious and beat the MSU Bulldogs 29-7. And, as we all know, the world is a better place when the Tigers win.
If you happen to be planning a trip to South Louisiana, I highly recommend taking in a LSU home game and tailgating with the locals. It really is the best party around.
And, if you thought it was not possible to have any more fun after tailgating, wait till you see what we did next.