Packer fans prep for Sunday - East Valley Tribune: West Valley

Packer fans prep for Sunday

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Posted: Wednesday, February 2, 2011 9:41 am | Updated: 9:43 am, Sun Feb 6, 2011.

Karen Ragan and her friends have had a Super Bowl party in Sun City for the past 11 years.

They even plan to watch the game this year.

Ragan and her fellow Wisconsin natives have a good reason to watch this year’s Super Bowl because their beloved Green Bay Packers will be playing in the title game for the first time in 13 years.

The Packers will square off against the Pittsburgh Steelers in Super Bowl XLV at 4:30 p.m. Sunday (Channel 10).

“We always have a lot of TVs on with the game, but I expect it will be different this year,” Ragan said. “We’ve rented a 52-inch TV for this game.”

Ragan and her fellow Midwesterners got together this week to profess their loyalty to Packer Nation and have an early pep rally for the title tilt.

Dressed in various team apparel, including a “cheese” sombrero, the seven Sun Citians and one Wisconsin visitor turned Ragan’s home into a sea of hunter green and “taxicab” gold colors.

They even had a Minnesota native join in the festivities.

“I married into Packer Nation,” said Ardelle Freimark, who hails from Minnesota. “I really wasn’t much of a football fan until I married Ron, and since he’s a Green Bay fan, I became a fan of the Packers.”

The menu for this Sunday’s big game will consist of traditional fare: hot ham and cheese sandwiches, salads, baked beans and desserts. Of course, no Packers’ party would be complete without beer, cheese and sausage.

“We’ll make sure it’s Miller beer since that’s from Wisconsin,” Don Koss said. “There won’t be any Iron City.”

Green Bay has long been one of the NFL’s most successful franchises, capturing 12 NFL titles, including three Super Bowl wins.

However, this year’s team has been embraced like few others in Packer Nation.

“I think a lot of it has to do with (quarterback) Aaron Rodgers,” said Melody Skusek, a resident of Franklin, Wis. “He is just a class act, and I think people have really taken to him.”

Skusek was in town to visit with Carole Breit, a Sun City resident. Originally scheduled to return home on Saturday, Skusek changed her travel plans to stay for the party.

Ragan said she’s also noticed a special bond between fans and this year’s team, which had to win three consecutive road playoff games to reach the Super Bowl.

“I’ve talked to friends back in Wisconsin and they’ve told me stores and restaurants closed on the Sunday of the NFC Championship game,” she said. “I don’t ever remember that happening before.”

Ragan and her husband, Ron, are longtime Packers fans.

They never watch the game in the same room, adjourning to different parts of their home to catch the action.

“Watching the game with her is like watching with Howard Cosell,” Ron Ragan said with a smile.

Football loyalties have even surfaced in various Sun City houses of worship.

At last week’s Mass at St. Elizabeth Seton Catholic Church in Sun City, the pastor closed the service with well-wishes to the Packers, recalled Ardelle Freimark.

“I heard the man behind us remark that he was going to have to find a new church,” she said. “He was a Pittsburgh Steelers fan.”

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