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Let the Games Begin: Tailgating Kicks of Game Day

Photo Credit: Joseph EastburnPhoto Credit: Joseph EastburnWith football season upon us, I found myself wondering who first thought up the idea of tailgating. Who woke up one morning and said, "Hey, I know. Let's take our rig to the parking lot, pull out a cooler of beer, slap some dogs on the Hibachi and pre-function ourselves into a frenzy'?

As it turns out, the first partisan-based pep rally/picnic - in America, anyway - can be traced back to the Civil War. Stephan Linn, in The Ultimate Tailgater's Hanbook (Rutledge Hill Press), explains. "Consider the Battle of Bull Run in 1861. Enthusiastic Union supporters from the Washington, D.C. area arrived with baskets of food and shouts of 'Go Big Blue' to watch the opening battle in America's Civil War. Historians generally agree this was a case of the right idea at the wrong time, war not being a spectator sport. Still, for those who attended, there was socializing and tradition, tension and excitement."

Mot legends, however, set modern tailgating firmly in 1869, when the first football game was played between Rutgers and Princeton at New Brunswick, New Jersey. Fans traveled to the game in carriages and arrived hungry and thirsty. So the collected themselves at the - ahem - tail of their horses to eat, drink and socialize. And thus, a great American tradition was born.

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