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 IMG_0138example 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!

 

“Linked to the My Global Life Link-Up at SmallPlanetStudio.com – See more at: http://www.smallplanetstudio.com/2014/01/31/link-up-jan/#sthash.8BseqTQV.dpuf

14 comments

  • Ann Nielsen says:

    Read your artical on Packer Nation. I’m from WI and I come here several times a year. I’m looking to find a bar or some place to watch the game. I’m in San Juan area. Would love to hang with other Packer fans. Any suggestions?
    Thanks,
    Annie

    • Annie, we’d love to have you join us at Legend’s on Winston-Churchill Street near El Senorial shopping center in Cupey. Thanks for reading and for commenting! Julie

    • Carmen Padin says:

      Wow this is great. Lol not too many football fans in Puerto Rico! I am a native from Puerto Rico raised in New Jersey and moved to Wisconsin in the 90’s I love my Green Bay Packers!

      • Carmen, thrilled to hear that you’re a fan and to learn of the link to Puerto Rico! I looked all over SE Wisconsin for Puerto Ricans a few years ago while in between jobs and came up short. We’d love for you to join us if you’ll be on the island for the holidays!

  • Hi,

    I’m a Cheesehead from way back, born in Stevens Point, raised in Wisconsin Rapids, later going to school at St. Norberts College (De Pere) and UW-Madison, with summer vacations in Ephraim, Door County. Worked for a time in Green Bay.

    I now live in Bayamon, Puerto Rico, with two young sons who attend Baldwin School in Guaynabo. Both are rapidly becoming Packer backers and we hope to some day visit family and friends who remain in Dairyland for a game at Lambeau.

    Meanwhile, please be so kind as to send me information about your club and any activities planned for the future.

    Best regards. Go, Pack!
    Foote lads in PR

    • Thrilled to hear from you and to hear that you are rearing future Packer backers! We get together at Legend’s Sports Bar on Winston Churchill Street (near El Senorial) in Cupey. It’s a family place so kids are welcome as long they are accompanied by an adult. We would love to meet you and your family if you’re up for it this coming Sunday. We also have a local Facebook group “Puerto Rico Packer Nation.” Ask to join (tell them Julie sent you!) and you’ll have all the updates on game days and more. I look forward to meeting you!

  • I live in Green Bay, Wisconsin where football is not a game it’s a way of life! But you already know that. Football here is an event like no other. During game time you can shoot a cannon down main street and no one will hear it. They’re all watching the game or at it, if it’s at Lambeau Field. I’ve heard The Green Bay Packers have fans all over the world. When I travel I wear green and gold. Thanks for the article. I will most definitely share with my fans.

    • Thanks for commenting, Julie! When I worked at a fast-food restaurant in high school, I knew when the game was about to start and when half-time occurred because no one was on the streets or in the restaurant. Clergy people know that they must end on time on game days because even they want to be home for kick-off. I’m happy to be able to represent such a proud tradition away from home!

  • Such a great story, Julie! It’s a wonderful feeling when you can integrate something special from your “old” home into your new/current home. And it’s even better when you develop into a new family! Thanks for sharing this in the #MyGlobalLife link-up!

  • Thanks for stopping by Cate! I enjoyed writing this piece, but enjoy sharing it even more! So glad to know that other people do understand how powerful it is to bring a piece of home with you in the new culture. I will happily participate in future #MyGlobalLife link-ups!

  • Hi Julie . . . . great article! My girlfriend and I are moving to PR later this year and are thinking of enjoying a more laid back lifestyle on the west or sw coast (Rincon to Cabo Rojo area). Do you, or any of your new Packer backing friends know of any bar in that area that may carry the games? Thanks much!

    • Hi Steve!

      I’m not certain when you two are planning to move, but we would love to invite you to the 10th anniversary bash of the Puerto Rico Packer Nation. It’s planned for the evening of August 30th in San Juan so please let me know if you’ll be around. We’d love to meet you and give you a proper welcome to the group.

  • Eric Southwell says:

    Hey Julie,

    Thanks for writing this article! I have been looking all over for a good packer bar for the game and viola!

    I think me and a few of my friends from Wisco are planning on joining your for the first game of the season tomorrow!

    We are all recent UW fans and big packer fans.

    Looking forward to tomorrow!
    Eric

    • Eric, so sorry to have missed this message. We’re always interested in welcoming new fans! Be sure to join us again on your next trip!

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