How To Celebrate Thanksgiving With a Tailgate Party in San Francisco

Keep the whole family happy with a safe turkey tailgate (Credit, Jerrell Richardson)

For the Monday Night Football game between the San Francisco 49ers and the Chicago Bears, some tailgaters will be talkin’ turkey – literally. Among the Candlestick Park tailgaterscelebrating Thanksgiving a few days early will be the Club 49 Tailgate Crew. The stars of the crew’s Thanksgiving-style tailgate will be two fried turkeys, two hams and homemade stuffing. Other items on the menu might include tri-tip, ribeye, mashed potatoes, asparagus and cranberry sauce.

Sounds scrumptious right? However, one mishap at the crew’s tailgate – and many other Thanksgiving get-togethers – could leave a bad taste in your mouth. U.S. fire departments fight more than 1,000 blazes each year involving turkey fryers, causing about 40 injuries and five deaths, according to the National Fire Protection Association.

“Star Trek” icon William Shatner has teamed up with insurance company State Farm for a campaign to encourage people to safely fry turkeys in any setting, including tailgating parties.

“I love to fry turkey and have been doing it for years, but I am not immune to frying accidents,” Shatner said. “People need to remember that hot oil and turkey can be a dangerous combination.”

If you want to wow your fellow tailgaters with a moist deep-fried turkey, follow these tips from State Farm and Butterball to avoid disaster:

  • For the best results, fry a turkey that weighs less than 14 pounds.
  • Remove any excess fat from the turkey.
  • Don’t stuff your turkey when frying it.
  • Fill the pot with cold oil and then lower the thawed turkey into the pot to determine how much oil should be added or removed.
  • Shut off the fuel source or flame when adding the turkey to the hot oil to prevent a dangerous flare-up if oil does spill over the rim.
  • Make sure your turkey is thawed properly before lowering it slowly into the pot.
  • Never leave a hot turkey fryer unattended.
  • Don’t use ice or water to cool down oil or extinguish an oil fire.
  • Keep a fire extinguisher nearby.

Courtesy of the Mayo Clinic, here are some other suggestions to help ensure a great Thanksgiving-style tailgate:

  • Plan on fixing at least 1 pound of turkey per person. “That might sound like a lot, but much of that weight comes from bone and fat that you will trim away,” the Mayo Clinic says.
  • Use sanitizer to wipe down anything the raw poultry might have touched, then wash your hands to avoid spreading salmonella.
  • Use a meat thermometer to test whether the turkey is done. Insert it into the thickest part of the thigh and make sure it reaches 165 degrees Fahrenheit.

Check out Tailgate Fan to keep the party going at

John Egan is a freelance writer covering all things San Francisco. His work can be found on


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