Finding home away from home in Puerto Rico
By Julie L. Parenteau, Ph.D.
As another Super Bowl fast approaches, I am reminded of one of the main reasons that I continue to live in San Juan. I am a huge Green Bay Packers fan, as many people from Wisconsin are. I grew up watching the games with my dad. He taught me the basics, sharing stories of Bart Starr and Ray Nitschke along the way. Today I uphold the game-watching tradition in a different way. Now I have the unique opportunity to share my culture with the Puerto Rican community every Sunday from September through the first week of February. Unfortunately, it wasn’t always that way.
When I first moved here, I was clueless as to how I was going to watch the Packer games. Knowing that I was too big a fan to miss the games, I had to find a place to watch and soon. I went to the only local bar that I had ever been to and pulled up a stool only to find that I was the lone Packer fan in the place. My rants and cheers more than made up for that. People gave me weird looks, but I didn’t care. I was there to support my team. The season ended as it started for me, alone in the corner.
The following year I put on my gear and headed out, anticipating another lonely year in the corner. Much to my surprise, the bar was jam-packed when I arrived on the first Sunday of the season. People of all different teams filled the area, except for Green Bay. I found a TV with the Packers game on and decided that I would just have to suffice with that. At least I could see it, although I couldn’t hear a thing. Feeling let down, I looked around for a chair. In that move my life changed forever. I turned around and saw a couple walk through the door dressed from head to toe in green and gold. It was as if heaven’s gates had opened and Saint Vince had reached down to bless me! I walked over to them and asked if I could sit with them. They agreed and led me through the bar to a section that I didn’t even know existed. It was there that I first laid eyes upon what was to become the Puerto Rico Packer Nation. A sea of green and gold jerseys and caps was before me. I instantly felt at home.
Since that time, the Puerto Rico Packer Nation has grown to a much larger group who gets together to watch the games every week. We provide t-shirts, hats, and beads for those attendees who aren’t sporting green and gold. That gesture has helped the group become a family.
Today, we are all each other’s brothers and sisters, aunts and uncles. We count on one another when things are bad and relish in the happiness of the good times. We are a shining example of what it means to be affiliated with the Green Bay Packers organization. No matter the distance, we are fans to the end.
Although we won’t be watching our team play in the Super Bowl this year, we will all join together to cheer on our extended family members whose teams are fighting it out for they, too, are our brothers and sisters. We are a football family.
This reflection is dedicated to the members of the Puerto Rico Packer Nation, the Packers friends that I have met over the years, and my parents who provide the supplies for our local family. Go Pack!
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