Did you ever walk into a crowd of strangers, and just know that you had a deep connection with them? It happened to me last week at Quinn’s Almost by the Sea. I discovered it in 2013, and love the vibe. This place is the Southernmost Official Packer Bar in the USA, so proclaims their website.
My sister was visiting, and we decided to celebrate the Packer’s 100th season by watching the opening game against our biggest rival, the Bears, at Quinn’s.
So we went early and got a good table. Before our lunch even arrived, we were already acquainted with the Southern California gals at the next table, Carol and Barbara (with Dallas fan husband, Jerry). These gals have been Packer fans for years, and have even flown to Green Bay for a game. That’s more than I can say. It’s on my bucket list – a Packer game at Lambeau Field some year before the weather turns cold. But this could be a long time coming, because according to Wikipedia, the Packers have sold out every game since 1960. And even if I still lived in Wisconsin, forget about season tickets: at least 115,000 names are on the waiting list with a wait time of 30 years.
The young couple on their honeymoon was from Montana; the older couple behind us was from Alberta. A bunch of local guys sauntered in wearing Packer shirts. A Minnesota couple arrived, she a life-long Packer fan, he a Viking fan. It would have been fun to sit with them at the Packers-Vikings game.
The bar room was also packed, everyone rooting for the Packers. Here I found some Wisconsin refugees, Kimberly, her husband and son, and a silver fox from Wauwatosa. Photos and hugs all around, the whole restaurant seemed like one large family reunion. All you had to do was make eye contact, grin, and raise your hand for a high-five to start a conversation.
Even the dismal Packer performance did not seem to dampen the mood. When Aaron Rodgers was carted off the field, the atmosphere toned down, but we never lost faith. Down by 20 points in the third quarter, we prayed for Aaron’s return. Reporter to Rodgers: “What goes through your head when you look at the scoreboard and see 20 to 3?” Rodgers: “7 times 3. We gotta score three touchdowns.” What a comeback, playing the rest of the game with an injured knee!
With only 2:15 left in the game, Chicago was still ahead 23-17. Everyone was on their feet, praying, yelling, and willing the team on. Then Rodgers connected with Cobb for a 75 yard return and a touchdown. Such a noise! When the game ended with a Packer victory, the crowd went wild. It was the largest 4th quarter deficit the team had ever overcome in 100 seasons of play.
I had so much fun last week, I decided to go again this week with Game Two of the season against the Vikings. My sister had gone home where she was assured of getting the Packers telecast for every game. Not so for me; if I want to be sure to see every game, I’ll have to drive to Kona. This was a noon game in Green Bay, which meant a 7 am kick-off in Hawaii. Yes, Quinn’s opens at 7 am on Sunday during football season. I left the house at 5:30 am, and picked up Stacy at 6. When we arrived at 7:10, there wasn’t a seat open in the bar or adjacent dining room. Just then, Jerry (the Dallas fan husband of Barbara) walked up and said he had two seats saved for me. YES! There they were, Barbara and Carol, already cheering for the Packers.
Around me were people from Oshkosh, Beaver Dam, Rice Lake, Kenosha, Horicon, and a suburb of Milwaukee. The folks from Beaver Dam and Kenosha also have condos here in Kona. Wow! Even Stacy’s Dad was originally from Wisconsin, so I’ll count her too. There was one lone guy in the bar wearing a Vikings shirt. Even he was welcome. I told him he was a brave man and he gave me a big hug. Quinn’s is my kind of bar; everyone is on their feet for the Packers.
It was way too early to drink beer at 7 am, even at a Packer Game. So I contented myself with coffee and a breakfast that could only be dreamed up by someone from Wisconsin – a Reuben omelet complete with sauerkraut, corned beef and 1000 Island Dressing drizzled on top. It was good! But the game was so intense, that I barely finished it. The game went into overtime and still ended in a tie. At least we didn’t lose.
On the way home, Stacy and I stopped off at the beach for a long swim/bob, the best way to work off all that energy from the game. This is not something I could do after watching a game in a Wisconsin Packer Bar. So what more can I want? I’ve got my team, my bar, my tribe, and am lucky enough to live on the Big Island. I am so grateful.
For more on Quinn’s, see Packer pity party…in Kona!
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