Oct 20, 2023 - Sports

Bears fans perfect the art of the Chicago tailgate

people at lake

Fans tailgate at Burnham Harbor before the game against the Broncos on Oct. 1. Photos: Justin Kaufmann/Axios

This Bears season is shaping up to be another losing affair, but don't tell that to the thousands of fans who tailgate before games at Soldier Field.

What's happening: The parties aren't just happening on top of the Waldron deck. Several beaches and nearby empty lots are transformed into makeshift pregame festivities.

  • This includes a small strip of grass just west of Burnham Harbor, where Luke LaLonde and his dad have been hosting parties for over 20 years.

What they're saying: "We love the Bears, we love the tailgate, we love to cook for people," LaLonde tells Axios.

Luke LaLonde and his wife Nicole prepare lamb chops for their tailgate. Photo: Justin Kaufmann/Axios
Lamb chops on the grill at 10am. Photo: Justin Kaufmann/Axios

State of play: This isn't your standard hot dogs and burgers tailgate. LaLonde was serving grilled lamb chops when I visited, and they had lobster and filet mignon on the menu earlier in the season.

  • I dug into a mesquite-barbecued kielbasa.
The sides table. Photo: Justin Kaufmann/Axios

The bottom line: LaLonde says he usually gets down to reserve the spot by 7am on game days. "I've missed two games in 21 years because of the birth of my children," LaLonde says.

  • "We'll keep tailgating till we die."

If you want to stumble past and join the party, all are welcome. But act fast; Sunday's pre-game feast will be the last in this location, because Burnham Harbor shuts down for the season at month's end.

people in lawnchairs watching football
What's a pregame tailgate party without watching the pregame show on TV? Photo: Justin Kaufmann/Axios

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