Saints Vs. Steelers: Tailgate Comparison
I had the opportunity to attend a game at Heinz Field in Pittsburgh, and I noticed a few differences between the way they tailgate compared to Saints fans.
First, let's look at the similarities: black & gold, lots of food, lots of alcohol, Cornhole games, footballs flying through the air, vendors, smoking grills, music, and scalpers.
Since the teams share a similar color scheme, there was lots of black & gold all around the Steelers' tailgating areas. Smoke was pouring out of hot grills that had chicken, beef, sausage, and vegetables a-sizzling. There were flagpoles flying the Steelers' colors, usually accompanied by a family flag or a business flag. The police officers were hard at work, but quick to pose for a selfie, showing their spirit.
On every street corner, there were people with the "Need 2 Tickets" or "Tickets?" signs. Vendors were walking around with (less than legal?) Steelers' shirts and jerseys for sale (I can't even print here what the Antiono Brown shirt had on it!). There was music in the air, different from what one would hear at Saints' games (more on that in a minute).
Now, for the differences: the food, and the music.
I know, I included those same things in the similarities, but there is a distinct difference: the music in Pittsburgh doesn't have the local flair that the music heard at the tailgating in New Orleans has. I heard many of the same songs, but most were just songs heard on the radio. In New Orleans, a lot of the music you get is the "Bounce", and we just didn't hear that in Pittsburgh. That's not a bad thing, it's just something that is different. And, of course, in New Orleans, there's the Second Line music, the "Stand Up and Get Crunk" song to really get the Saints fans pumped, and other music that doesn't let you forget which city you're in. In Pittsburgh, I found the music to be great, but it didn't have a "home" like the music at the Saints' tailgating.
The food in Pittsburgh was great, and it let you know where you were: grilled cheesesteak sandwiches, pretzel balls with cheese or mustard, pierogies (hot off of the grill with grilled onions - delicious!), Pittsburgh Salad (lettuce, cheese, tomato, onions, cucumbers, steak or chicken, all topped with fries!), and kielbasa (again, hot off of the grill!). Several of the grills had chicken, beef, and pork cooking, but I didn't see the seasoning normally seen on the grills around the New Orleans tailgating areas. (I wonder if I could have scalped any NuNu's Seasoning mix while I'm there?!?!?).
The other similarity between New Orleans and Pittsburgh: the people were welcoming. We've got "How's ya' mom & them?", while people in Pittsburgh have "Yinz doing good?". They were quick to offer food, drink, and a "Go Stillers" to us as we walked through the tailgating area.
The final difference is the toughest one for me to type on this page: New Orleans feels "warmer" to me. Don't get me wrong, the people of Pittsburgh were VERY nice and welcoming, but in New Orleans, it's just different. In Pittsburgh, it was "Yinz want some food?", while in New Orleans, the offer for food comes with a "Baby" or a "Y'all", and it just makes the whole interaction warmer. Granted, if someone from Pittsburgh were to visit New Orleans and not hear even one "Yinz", they would probably say the same thing I'm saying.
I guess what I am saying is this: I very much enjoyed my trip to see the Steelers play, and I enjoyed the food and the hospitality at the tailgating party, but: there's no place like home!
Pittsburgh is a great city. It's rich in history, has world-class food (from 5-Star restaurants to corner eateries), great public spaces (parks, museums, trails), and very nice people. One hour away, you can snow ski. One hour the other way, you can go white-water rafting. Concerts, plays, major-league sports, universities, global businesses, and great shopping.
The best thing about Pittsburgh, though, is its people: a diverse group from different parts of the world who chose to settle here, and who feel that there is more we have in common than that what makes us different.
Thank you, Pittsburgh, for asking me "Yinz doing good?"! Baby, we are doing just fine.