With the start of the new football season, more Chicagoans have started to get into the spirit of supporting the Chicago Bears. Tailgating is a time-honored practice that enthralls newcomers each year. Rookies new to the tradition should follow a few guidelines that will help make their first tailgating experience a memorable one. Following a rookie’s guide to tailgating in Chicago will help ease the stress involved in preparation and ensure excitement for future tailgating adventures.

Know the rules

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It’s essential to know the rules when it comes to tailgating in Chicago because the rules can vary with each state, stadium and team. The key guidelines in Chicago tailgating are the ban on canopies, open fires and deep fryers. Knowing this will help with the preparation purchases before planning your tailgating adventure. Another key rule is the ban on alcohol around the stadium, including leaving the lots and heading into Soldier Field. This rule is strictly enforced, so anyone trying to conceal alcohol can be issued a ticket.

Parking regulations

There are strict guidelines in parking regulations for tailgating at Soldier Field. Street parking is limited to specific non-residential zoning areas and there are only guaranteed tailgating parking spots in the South Lot or Waldron Deck by parking pass only. Cash parking lots are available but tailgaters are highly recommended to arrive four to five hours prior to kickoff to ensure availability. Click here for further information on parking guidelines for tailgating.

Weather-friendly apparel

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The weather in Chicago has extreme highs and lows, regardless of the season. While the summer can be scorching and the winters are renowned for their fierceness, the weather can change from game day to game day. It’s crucial to pay attention to weather changes on the day of your planned tailgate to pack the proper apparel, equipment and protection from the elements. Whether it’s the portable handheld fan on a scorcher, umbrella on a rainy day or mittens and headgear for a Chicago winter’s day, it’s crucial to come prepared when tailgating.

Eating equipment

When it comes to eating, grilling and cooking for a tailgating excursion, the equipment varies by the specific likes of the individual. While some will opt for the massive grill, others might choose the home crockpot or the simple pop-up grill. Whatever your preference, make sure to supply yourself with the right cooking utensils and storage equipment to make your preparation as simple as possible. Some key equipment to remember is cooking and eating utensils, preparation and eating tables, convenient seating and cleanup components. There are items for every budget but the real fun is picking the pieces featuring your favorite Chicago Bears team spirit. Some great sites for Chicago Bears tailgating paraphernalia are fansedge.com, footballfanatics.com, sportsfanfare.com and the official Chicago Bears store for tailgating at chicagobears.com.

Check out Tailgate Fan to keep the party going at TailgateFan.com.

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Sara Lugardo is a Korean American who thrives in writing about Asian community news in Chicago. She has a Bachelor’s in Communication and is currently working on her Master’s. Her work can be found on Examiner.com.