My dad took me to my first football tailgate when I was 12 or 13 years old. It was a University of Maryland vs. Clemson game, and while I don’t remember who won, the party in the parking lot is clearly etched in my brain.
Filmmaker Jonny Mars went to his first pro football tailgate party as an adult, five years ago, after betting a friend that watching a Dallas Cowboys game at home was a better experience than going to a game in person. He figured there would be food and beer and lots of yelling, but what he didn’t expect to find was a community there among the pickup trucks and tents and trailers. And he certainly never thought his life would be flipped upside-down outside Cowboys Stadium, but that’s exactly what happened.
Mars spent the next four years making a movie called “America’s Parking Lot,” about the Gate 6 Tailgaters in Dallas–possibly the most rabid group of fans the Cowboys enjoy–and how they were nearly torn apart when the team moved to a new stadium, a new ticket pricing structure, and a new parking lot. He and I started talking several months ago, and even having spent much of my work time immersed in parking for more than a year, his film and those fans’ story kind of blew me away.
In the September issue of The Parking Professional, you’ll meet tailgate ringleader Cy Ditmore, who’s featured in the film, and hear his thoughts on football and tailgates and parking. He talks about the family he gained when he started hanging out on the asphalt before football games, and he means it quite literally; the men and women he parties with have become as dear to his heart as his own blood relatives.
The movie is scheduled to appear on most cable systems’ video on demand menus starting November 22, sharing the importance of that parking lot with much of America. I hope you’ll spend some time with our story, get to know Jonny and Cy a little bit, and then make a date with your television to watch the film.
It’s much more than a party out there. It’s a neighborhood, and shows why, in a very grassroots sense, Parking Matters®.