Yes, there was rivalry during last Sunday’s Vikings-Packer football game tailgating party at the local Sterling Pointe senior living apartments.
But only one of the attendees was rooting for the Packers during most of the game in which the Green Bay Packers ended up losing to the Minnesota Vikings 37-34. That was Marge Marko, who once lived in Menomonee Falls, Wis.. for about 10 years with her now late husband George. And probably the closest thing resembling fighting words that a Vikings fan directed her way were good natured. That was when fellow Sterling Pointe resident Jane Riedl said, “Hold her (Marko) down and I’ll smack her.”
Riedl had just learned that Marko was rooting for the Packers, and when Riedl was asked if she meant those fighting words, she said she was only joking.
Marko had egged on some of that rival chatter a few times, telling her nearby Vikings fans they should just give up on the game because Marko was sure the Packers would win. But she spoke in a gentle voice, not audible for more than 10 feet.
Anne Norman, the other Packer fan at the party, showed up much later in the game. Norman moved to Minnesota from Janesville, Wis., a few years ago, and says she does listen to Vikings games on her radio.
Sterling Pointe activities director Alyssa Timmerman made sure the tailgate party had the right trappings. She had made two big plates of football-shaped brownies with the help of some of the apartments’ residents, and also set out chips, barbecued chicken wings and thighs, and other treats, along with wine.
Timmerman also set up a little game board with squares, placing numbers across the top and down the left side according to card numbers she turned up. Residents then had their names put in about a half dozen squares. Then after each quarter of the football game, Timmerman used a combination of digits in the score to find a winning name. The prizes were a pen and jersey pin with the Vikings logo. The only thing she would add to the next tailgating party, she said, is to hand out pom poms for those who wanted to lead cheer.
Peak attendance at the party was only about 10 or so, with the numbers ebbing and flowing. Most who left, did so midway through the game when supper was called at 5 p.m. at the apartments.
One who stuck with the game from start to finish, except for some short breaks, was Sterling Pointe resident William “Joe” Dial. He was the only male from the apartment complex at the tailgate party, and had one of the closest seats. He pulled his electric scooter up to the table that was located about 12 feet from the big-screen TV. Dial was also sharp on all that was happening in the game, and urged the Vikings to “Get going,” at times and yelled, “Yah,” a few other times during the Vikings best plays.
Dial, a Vikings fan, did not wear any purple clothing, except for one time late in the game when he returned after a break wearing a Vikings stocking cap and purple top. It was one of the better times for him to do that as the Vikings then made some key plays, including a touchdown.
“I’m in Minnesota, so I’m a Vikings fan,” said Dial. When he gets together with his son and daughter-in-law, both Packer fans he said, some “heated discussions” get going over that fact.
But Dial also said he isn’t a very serious Vikings fan, explaining that he watches Vikings games once in a while, and was there watching that game because of the tailgating party. “It’s fun,” he said.
Elaine England, another Sterling Pointe resident at the party, weighed in: “It doesn’t matter (who wins). But there is nothing else to watch.”
“They’re OK,” Sterling Pointe resident Arline Hanson said. “I just like the home team. My son-in-law, he lives in Wisconsin, so he’s for the Packers.”
When Vikings kicker Blair Walsh kicked the 29-yard field goal in the last seconds of the game to give the Vikings their three-point win and send the Vikings into the playoffs, Dial commented on the sporting event in general.
“That’s a good game,” Dial said, explaining that he doesn’t enjoy one-side contests. “I like ones like this one tonight, a good game.”
Sterling Pointe, on Monday, was looking into having a tailgating party this Saturday when the Vikings will be playing the Packers again, but this time in the playoffs. Timmerman said it would likely be before the game because of the game’s 7 p.m. start.
If that happens, then it remains to be seen how many will be there more for the spirit of the party, and how many will be in front of the TV to watch the game later.