When the twilight air is very still you can sometimes hear it: the crack of colliding shoulder pads as the young warriors of the purple and gold crash into one another preparing for battle. It's football season, so that means it's tailgating time.
It's a magical time. It's something in my blood -- my parents were introduced at a football game.
The Payson Longhorns play their first home game at 7 p.m. Friday, Sept. 3 against Notre Dame of Scottsdale (their first regular season game is away Aug. 27 with Glendale Cortez).
The Arizona State University Sun Devils have just finished their annual pilgrimage to the Rim country. They completed training at Camp Tontozona Friday. The first Sun Devils' home game is Thursday, Sept. 2 against the University of Texas at El Paso.
The Arizona Cardinals' first regular season home game is Sept. 19 against the New England Patriots.
Go to the game or root for your team from home, but make a party out of it.
If you're planning to be at the game and have a tailgate party:
- Pack up the car the night before with nonperishable food and supplies;
- Visit the game location ahead of time to stake out a good spot on game day;
- Make sure propane tanks are full;
- Use separate coolers for raw meats, ready-to-eat foods and beverages;
- Instead of loose ice, freeze bottled water and put it in your cooler -- it won't melt and flood the cooler and you will have cold drinking water after the game;
- Ask all participants to bring ice to avoid running out;
- Fly flags, balloons or other identifying markers so friends and family can find your party in the parking lot;
- Food should be ready at least two hours before the game to allow time to eat, clean up and extinguish fires;
- Remove the ashes from the grill, keeping them in heavy-duty foil and soaking them completely with water before disposing of them in a noncombustible container; and
- Clean up after yourselves -- bring plenty of trash and recycling bags to properly dispose of all garbage.
Make a party out of watching your favorite teams on television with pregame festivities:
- Keep it simple -- plan on a slow cooker dish or a deli tray, a pot of plain, old-fashioned chili or great grilled favorites;
- Get the children involved in everything from planning the menu to decorating;
- Keep the youngsters' tastes in mind when planning the menu;
- Decorate with team colors, use simple streamers or get as elaborate as your imagination allows;
- Clear the refrigerator of items not being used for the party, placing them in an ice chest.
If you're eating inside in front of the television, make sure there are clear surfaces to hold the plates of food, drinks and snacks. With less clutter to compete with the meal, there are fewer opportunities for destructive splashes and spills.