How To Celebrate Thanksgiving With A Tailgate Party In Detroit

Bring the family out to the Lions game for Turkey Day (Credit, Alonso Delarte)

On Thursday, our nation will be celebrating Thanksgiving, the day when we offer up our thanks for all we have. Here in Detroit, we will be offering thanks for one additional event, Thanksgiving football.

So it is time to pull out the turkey cooker and have your Thanksgiving feast in one of the tailgating lots when the Detroit Lions take on the Houston Texans. As a reminder, the game on Thanksgiving begins at 12:30 p.m., 30 minutes earlier than the normal Sunday start time. Do your Thanksgiving right by making an entire day out of the celebration.

A little history

For those unaware, it was the Detroit Lions who started the tradition of playing football on Thanksgiving day back in 1934. That first Turkey Day game was between the Detroit Lions and the Chicago Bears. The Lions lost the game, but now 78 years later, the tradition lives on across the nation. Once again like so many things about Detroit, people forget that along with Motown music and the automobile, they have Detroit to thank for Thanksgiving football. The Detroit Lions website has a great history on all of the Thanksgiving Day games with stats and other interesting information.

Football is not the only game in town

Those who will be heading down to Ford Field to join in on the game-day fun need to be aware that the game is only part of the Thanksgiving festivities. There is also the Thanksgiving Day Parade that will be heading down Woodward Avenue at about the same time that most tailgaters will be arriving to get their celebration underway.

The parade begins at Woodward and Mack avenues at 9 a.m. and then heads down Woodward Avenue to the heart of downtown, finishing up at Congress Street. Keep this in mind when gauging commute time.

Added to this is the fact that one of the coolest places to tailgate for a Lions game, especially on Thanksgiving, is the Vietnam Veterans of America Post 009 at 2951 Woodward Avenue, which is located on the parade route. If you head down a little early, it is the perfect place to watch the parade and tailgate. According to post members, parade watchers and tailgaters start showing up around 7:30 a.m., so pack up the night before and head down for a good time.

As in years past, the VVA Post will be offering up hot chocolate for a small donation and then once the parade passes by, it is time to fire up the cookers and fry that turkey.

Sure there are other ways to celebrate Thanksgiving, but if you are a tailgater and love the Thanksgiving Day Parade, then this is the way to enjoy your day. It is the perfect time to collect up family and friends, especially the children, to enjoy the parade and a good tailgate party downtown. Not only will you get to be part of a 78-year-old tradition by being on hand for the Thanksgiving Lions game, but you will also get the chance to see Santa arrive in the Motor City. It doesn’t get much better than that.

Check out Tailgate Fan to keep the party going at

Award winning freelance writer and photographer Lawrence DiVizio is based in Southeast Michigan and works to convey in words and images the world around us. His work can be found at


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