Divided Loyalties on Border When it Comes to Vikings and Packers

Students at St. Bridget Parish School in River Falls, Wisconsin show off their Vikings and Packers jerseys Friday. Photo: Courtesy of Jeanne McCoy
Students at St. Bridget Parish School in River Falls, Wisconsin show off their Vikings and Packers jerseys Friday.

September 14, 2018 04:17 PM

When it comes to the border battle between the Minnesota Vikings and Green Bay Packers, there's perhaps no place the rivalry is more evident than ... well ... along the border.

That was demonstrated Friday at St. Bridget Parish School in River Falls, Wisconsin, where it was designated Team Spirit Friday, allowing students and faculty to show off the colors of their team of choice in advance of Sunday afternoon's matchup at Lambeau Field.


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"I think that's kind of a tradition at a lot of border-town schools when it comes to the Vikings and Packers," principal Jeanne McCoy said. "You get a lot of fans of both teams."

McCoy is a Vikings fan who resides in Cannon Falls, across the border in Minnesota. And she said that puts her in the minority at St. Bridget, despite the fact the school is located just 37.2 miles from U.S. Bank Stadium and 251 miles from Lambeau Field.

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She said the jersey ratio Friday appeared to be around 90 percent Packers and 10 percent Vikings.

"The students, especially, can be very vocal when it comes to supporting the Packers," she said with a chuckle.

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A few miles away in Hudson, Vikings fan Al Heidenreich said he too is in the minority in his neighborhood.

But the lifelong fan of the Purple, who grew up on the east side of St. Paul and has lived in Hudson for 30 years now, enjoys getting under the skin of his neighbors.

In past years, he's placed a replica of the Metrodome over his driveway and built a cardboard Vikings ship in the driveway itself.

"It ended up getting burned to the ground," he said laughing.

"I have Packers fans all around me. It can get pretty rough. My neighbors are pretty hard-core. That's why I decorate my driveway every year - just to bother them."

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But he said it's all in fun. He and his neighbors regularly gather for parties at his home to watch the Vikings and Packers play.

This Sunday will be no exception.

"It's come one and come all," he said.

"One year, he put out a purple carpet on the driveway," his wife Julie added. "So the only way to walk into the house was to walk on the purple carpet. Packers fans were not happy about that."

Across the river in Minnesota, there are divided loyalties as well. Ashley Dempsey, the service operations coordinator at the Tilted Tiki Tropical Bar and Lounge in Stillwater, said the crowd for Vikings/Packers games there tilts more toward the Purple.

But Green Bay fans are represented as well.

"It's more Vikings fans, but we are right on the border, so we get Packers fans in here too," said Dempsey, whose establishment will host a luau for the game Sunday. "You know how that rivalry is. It can get rowdy at times. But everybody has fun."

McCoy said having fun with the rivalry was the reason behind Team Spirit Day.

"Things like this are a great opportunity for everyone to show off their team spirit, but also to be respectful to fans of the other team," she said. "It's a chance for everyone to come together and have fun."


Frank Rajkowski

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