Sept. 21, 2014, in the Muni Lot
I once saw a 6’-3”, 250-pound man five-star frog splash off of an RV and onto a table. The crowd cheered, I jeered and the table splintered. It was truly a sight to behold.
Here’s the thing... I wasn’t at Monday Night Raw
when I saw this, I was in our backyard. I was in the hallowed Muni Lot where grown men become boys and, after several foggy hours, become men again.
The Municipal Lot (affectionately known as the Muni Lot) is about 16 acres of pure, unadulterated magic. It’s where we call home. It’s where the die-hards congregate for mass on any given Sunday. The lot is sex, drugs and rock ‘n’ roll embodied, and Elvis Presley is hooking up with Marilyn Monroe. It’s a Vegas party on a blue-collar budget. It’s the Christmas spirit personified, complete with goodwill and merry, fat guys sporting beards. It’s the perfect crime and it’s all ours.
If there’s one lesson that Browns fans know, it is this: The Browns might lose a game, but we the fans won’t lose a tailgate. We’re undefeated 8-0 at home, a perfect record. Cleveland takes its tailgating seriously and we’re damn proud of it! It’s a Cleveland thing and quite frankly one of the best
things we have to offer!
With the city releasing its Muni Lot "rules" today
("No Drinking," for instance, haha), we figured we'd do what we normally do: Ignore all of that and take up the mantle of Cleveland tradition. This is a guide on how to throw a full proof Cleveland Browns Muni Lot tailgate from a die-hard fan and Muni Lot veteran. Enjoy.
The Night Before
Twas’ the night before tailgate and all through the house and not a creature was stirring not even a mouse. Why don’t you go ahead and plan on being the mouse this night. It’s crucial that you stay in the night before tailgating because essentially you are living your Saturday Night on a Sunday. Yes, I wanted to go out on West 6th too, but you’ll need your rest. Stay in, it’s worth the sacrifice. Trust me.
It’s in your best interest to be wise with your time the night before. Use Saturday to be productive, as you won’t be capable of fulfilling even the most basic responsibilities on Sunday. Use this time to make sure you have the essentials: beer, brats, burgers, water, trash bags, footballs, deejay equipment, props, napkins, games, horse heads, cash, etc. You do not want to wake up and scramble; be prepared.
The Morning Of
Wakey wakey beers and bakey. This is it, the day has finally come! Santa stuffed his fat ass down our proverbial chimney and left us presents. I know, I can’t wipe the grin off of my face either.
Set your alarm for 5:30 a.m., wipe the sand out of your eyes and plan to be on the road by 6 a.m. You want to get to the Muni Lot as early as possible; it fills up fast. These dawgs are thirsty, I tell ya! Before you leave, make sure you:
- Drank water
- Ate breakfast
- Left with all of your tailgating supplies
- Figured out the driving situation
- Used and flushed the toilet
- Provided a last will and testament to your spouse or next of kin
It is critical to your success to have the driving responsibilities addressed. Everyone can start out drinking, but the driver must stop when the game starts. Getting a DUI and endangering yourself as well as others will never be worth an additional beer. Please be responsible so we can continue to be irresponsible.
The Set Up
This is game time baby, get here early and set up quick. The sooner you set up, the sooner you can start shotgunning beers. Make sure your friends don’t conveniently leave to go to the bathroom during this time. The set up is of the utmost importance because a well set up and polished tailgate is a head turner. You want to be known as the crew that throws the best tailgates, it’s a much-coveted title in this town.
Keep in mind this is a Cleveland Browns Muni Lot tailgate. People put 100-percent effort into their party. Try to have as much Browns flare as possible. The subtle improvements and nuances make all the difference in the world here. People appreciate the additional effort.
In a nutshell, tailgating in the Muni Lot is partying with 10,000 people at once, and this time your weird uncle was invited. It’s shades of the past mixing with shades of the present. It’s college spring break meets the county fair. It’s the young buck going to pasture with the old bull. It’s the white-collar boss getting blackout drunk with his blue-collar employees. It’s complete insanity and all the while completely sane. This is where Van Halen meets Diplo. This is where Miley Cyrus meets Rage Against The Machine. This is where hard heads meet hard hats. This is the Muni Lot on game day.
Truthfully anything can happen in the Muni Lot. You’ll see go-karts made from coolers, couches that double as cars, vendors peddling goods as if the lot was an open, third world market. You’ll see families and you’ll see friends. You’ll see drunk guys, drunk girls and in my case a fat guy jumping off of an RV. You’ll see 10,000 screaming fans getting down in the name of Cleveland. It’s our little piece of heaven and a celebration of all things Cleveland. Only in the Muni Lot can one truly appreciate the passion that Browns fans are nationally known for. You want to be at this party, I’ll bet on that. Here are a few tips to throw a successful tailgate:
Have a Nice Music Set-Up
You know what makes tailgates fun and turns your bro fest into a fun fest? Dancing. Invest in a good set up, playing music and dancing is your best bet to get people to stop by your tailgate. Remember a Browns tailgate is a party, and at parties you want to dance. Do it.
Have Plenty of Food and Drinks to Share
A way to guarantee you never get uninvited to the cool kid’s pizza party is to always have food and drinks to share. Make sure that you start making food as soon as possible. You do not want to be drunk and have to wait for food to eat - it’s a buzz-kill and a half. A universal truth is the act of sharing your food and drinks will always be appreciated. This is why we do it; giving is receiving here.
Games are similar to music as it helps get the crowd involved. I suggest bringing games such as cornhole, ladder toss, can jam, beer pong, flip cup and for the bowler in all of us, keg bowling. Never underestimate the power of a game of catch at a tailgate; it’s catnip on crack for Browns fans. The key with games is to invite other people to join you. Everyone here wants to have fun and not be on the sidelines. Why not let them have fun with you?
Drinking is a Marathon
I know a few of you reading this sprint marathons and I tip my hat to you, Usain Bolt. I can no longer sprint as I once did; age has caught up with me. Today, slow and steady wins the race with drinking. Presumably you’ll be drinking for four to eight hours, there isn’t a rush to get loaded right out of the gate. You want to shoot for the mellow, upbeat drunk where you can still let loose but still be cognitive. Drink and be merry but know your limits, it’ll serve you well.
Be Cool, Be Friendly, Be Responsible, Be Safe and Have Fun
Here’s the deal, when throwing a tailgate: Be cool, be friendly, be responsible, be safe and have fun. That’s it. Everyone tailgates in the Muni Lot for the same reason — to let loose and enjoy the day in the name of Cleveland. Don’t be a dick, don’t be completely wasted, don’t start fights and don’t harass the cops.
Be cool and friendly to the people you meet, even the homeless guy who will inevitably show up. Be responsible and be safe. Take care of your area and yourself; you’re a grown-ass man act accordingly. Most importantly have fun. Tailgating is a party and Cleveland throws the best one! We presumably only have eight home games a year and two preseason games to tailgate. That being said, tailgating is a hot commodity. Let’s enjoy this.
The Pack Down
All good things must come to an end but damn it, I’ll never forget her!
Remember the trash bags I mentioned earlier? Use them. The Muni Lot looks like 1970’s Harlem after the heat of a tailgate. We need to do our part before we leave to go wherever our feet lead us. It’s common sense but I’ll say it, clean up after yourself, clean up your space, lockup your belongings and leave. Go and enjoy the game.
When the game is over, make sure the driver can safely drive home, and you have all of your belongings including your drunk friends. If you need to wait to sober down then that’s your move. Congratulations, you learned how to throw your foolproof Muni Lot tailgate. Welcome to the jungle my friend.
Read more from contributor Tony Winn at tonysbologna.com