This Saturday Oct. 8, the Nittany Lions will take the field against the Maryland Terrapins for Penn State’s annual homecoming game. Thousands of the 658,000-member Penn State alumni base will travel back to Happy Valley for the game, but it’s what happens before kickoff that plays into the atmosphere of State College on game days.
As you may or may not know, Penn State holds a tailgate competition the morning of the homecoming game and the competition has prizes for best food, most creative, most Penn State spirit, and best overall tailgate.
For some, tailgating is the height of gameday in State College. For a particular family from Long Island, New York, tailgating has become a ritual on Saturdays outside Beaver Stadium.
Meet the San Románs:
Gustavo and his wife Elisa travel about five and a half hours to State College every Friday before a Penn State home game to put on a show for family and friends and on homecoming — the judges for the competition. The San Romans take their tailgate game above and beyond. They have been crowned as the best overall tailgate the last three years, and are looking to make it a four-peat this year.
The San Román family has deep roots within the Penn State community, aNFL their passion and pride as Penn Staters is unparalleled. 11 people from the San Román family have attended Penn State and each one of them are just as eager as the next to make your experience at their tailgate something you won’t soon forget.
Their tailgates include amazing food, Nittany Lion ice sculptures, Olympian swimmers, and everything in between. The San Románs have had season tickets since the start of the 2006 season and have not missed a single home game in the last 10 years.
If you ever happen to stumble across the best tailgate in Happy Valley (Stadium West Lot spot 2313) make sure you fill your plate with a little bit of everything or Gustavo San Roman will take it as a personal insult (trust me, I know from experience.) You won’t be disappointed with outcome. The San Román tailgate contains some of the best food I have ever eaten. Especially if you’re there on homecoming morning make sure to take a look at their menu.
Yes, they have menus. This family doesn’t mess around when it comes to preparation. If you scroll through their menus you can find items such as ‘The Mauti’, ‘Frank-Lion Toast’, my personal favorite, the Buffalo Chicken dip, and many other creative stomach stuffers. If you’re there early enough you’ll be able to quench your thirst with an ‘OJ McDuffie’ which contains champagne and orange juice. On a side note, this year they will be adding Jolly Rancher and chocolate shot glasses for those of you who have a sweet tooth.
The food isn’t the only great thing about the San Román tailgate. I was talking to Jenn San Román, a sophomore at Penn State, and she informed me if you stop by you just might be able to meet a few local celebrities and maybe, if you’re lucky, a national celebrity.
“In the past we’ve had former players like Josh Hull and John Urschel stop by to say hello”, Jenn said. She added Mike The Mailman has also made his way by the popular tailgate. Oh, and six-time gold medalist swimmer Ryan Lochte was in attendance at the tailgate in 2014 for the White-Out game against Ohio State.
It is pivotal to get there early so you can take in the full experience. Junior Maria San Román said they get inside Beaver Stadium early. “Like an hour, got to make sure we are in our seats to watch the band perform and team walk out!”
Don’t fret, for they may end the tailgate an hour before game time, the party picks up right where it left off after the game is over. If the Nittany Lions emerge victorious, come on back to celebrate long into the night (or until Gustavo and Elisa kick you out). If the Lions lose still come on back to eat your sorrows away drink until you forget what just happened.
I have known the San Románs personally for the last nine years and have been attending their tailgates for the last three; their party-like atmosphere is unlike any other, so make sure you stop by.
Whether you’re a football fan or not, fan of the other team, or just happen to be walking by, the San Román tailgate is a unique experience unlike any other you will see on a college football Saturday. They welcome you with open arms to make you feel at home, and like I said before, eat some food!