Local News

Packers get backers from all ages

Lifelong fans not shy about sharing stories, passion for Pack

VERONA, Wis. - The big screens were fired up, and so were the fans at Verona's Draft House.

The popular spot was filled with fans on both sides of the border battle who were pumped for the the third -- and most important -- meeting between the Vikings and Packers in just the last 34 days.

"I guess we'll have a couple purple fans, but mostly green and gold, definitely," co-owner Tonya Patten said.

Patten expected the restaurant to make a couple of thousand dollars more than a typical Saturday thanks to the game.

Among the tables of friends and foes in all different colors were Kristen Lentz and her family. Lentz's 14-month-old niece is a Packer fan in training, learning all of the cheers from a very young age.


"Getting really excited to watch the game," Lentz said as they prepared to watch. "Can't get better than that. It's going to be a good game, and no doubt we're going to win."

At Saint Mary's Care Center in Madison, the scene is more subdued. A handful of residents gathered in front of the television in the community room, each with several decades of dedication under their belt.

Jenevieve Carlson has been watching the Pack play since the 1940s. She has never set foot in Lambeau Field for a game, and she doesn't even own any official green and gold garb.

But that doesn't mean the woman comfortably wrapped up in a lavender blanket on a chilly Saturday night doesn't have a long history of cheering her favorite team on.

"When my children were small," Carlson explained, "I'd sit in the living room and scream and holler for the Packers while they were doing something else. Sometimes they thought I was crazy."

Carlson said the days of Bart Starr got her fully on board with the Packers.

Charles Dykman, on the other hand, recalls 1967's infamous "Ice Bowl" in vivid detail. He became a Packers fan back in grade school, but said it wasn't until high school that he got serious about it.

"It was almost a matter of religion. Everybody was that way about it," Dykman said.

Dykman said he's lived through the good, the bad, and the ugly with the Packers, but said this year's team shows real promise now that most of the players are healthy.

"It's been a wonderful run for them, and me," Dykman said.

The most experienced of fans say it's best to cheer their team on no matter what.

"We have to stick up for them," Carlson said. "We have to believe in that."

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