On Blue Friday, as it’s now known, chef Jason Sutherland dished Skittles and hot dogs at an indoor tailgate party at the cafeteria in Tacoma’s St. Joseph Medical Center.
Nearby, at the County-City Building, dozens of workers in Seattle Seahawks jerseys, scarves and even neon green wigs roared as the 12th Man Flag was raised.
A spot in the Super Bowl is on the line Sunday when the Seahawks host the San Francisco 49ers, and a boisterous fan base that’s long considered itself part of the team is clearly ready.
“What makes us the super fans of the NFL is we have a hunger,” said Michael Budd of Fircrest. “A strong hunger for another championship in this city.”
Displays of Seahawks passion aren’t really everywhere in the South Sound. It just seems that way.
Here are 12 to remember.
THE BIG EASY FAN
The Seahawks made Lee White’s hometown blue and the inside of his wallet green, but he doesn’t have mixed emotions about the Seahawks.
“I’m a Hawks fan, no question,” said White, who lives in New Orleans but moved to the South Sound recently to sell Seahawks merchandise.
Passersby honk and wave as White works his roadside stand at 160th Street and Meridian Avenue on South Hill.
“I decided to come up here way before I knew they’d be playing the Saints,” White said. “I think they’re the best team. I think they have the best chance to go to the Super Bowl. That’s why I decided to come here.”
White’s bestseller is the $40 12th Man flag.
“Everybody is excited right now,” White said. “They want to wave the flag.”
PRICE CHECK, AISLES 12
Brad Jackson is a lifelong Seahawks fan, so when the manager of the Gig Harbor Albertsons decided to decorate for the playoffs, he and the staff went all out.
All the checkout aisles have been switched to aisle 12. A display on the beer aisle includes a TV showing highlights from the Seahawks’ 2012 win over the New England Patriots, a possible Super Bowl matchup this season. And a huge inflatable Seahawks football player watches over the store from atop the cold case.
“Quite a few customers have commented on how much they like it and how we have more decorations than other stores,” Jackson said.
While workers are allowed to wear Seahawks gear on Fridays, they successfully lobbied to wear the gear all this weekend.
In the bakery section, fans can buy Seahawks-themed desserts; cupcakes, cakes and large football-shaped cookies offer tributes to Russell Wilson, Marshawn Lynch, the 12th Man and others.
The Lynch cookie is adorned with Skittles, the running back’s favorite candy, and blue-and-green frosting spelling “Feed the Beast.” The store sold 24 of the $7.99 cookies last weekend.
But are the Skittles cookies any good?
“I don’t know,” Jackson said. “I haven’t tried one.”
THE EARLY TAILGATE
At St. Joseph’s tailgate lunch, Seahawks fans Mary Sprague and Rita Feliuae enjoyed their hot dogs and discussed plans for Sunday. Both are hosting parties.
Sprague’s son is coming over with friends.
Feliuae is welcoming the enemy into her home. She will have about 20 family members over, and about half are die-hard 49ers fans.
“There has been some in-your-face stuff, but it’s been fun,” Feliuae said of the two previous Seahawks-49ers games this season. “But it’s getting harder to be civilized.”
Both say they appreciate the Seahawks pride they’ve seen around the hospital this week.
“It’s exciting to see, and even the visitors are into it,” Sprague said.
Most of the Franciscan Health System hospitals got into the spirit with tailgate parties Friday, spokesman Scott Thompson said. Some receptionists wore jerseys, and an auxiliary group planned to make “Seahawks goodie bags” for patients at Federal Way’s St. Francis Hospital.
“It’s really created camaraderie in the hospital,” Sutherland said. “People are stopping and talking to people they might not otherwise talk to.”
MultiCare Health System is taking a different approach. It is sticking to its dress code that prohibits logos larger than 2 by 2 inches. When the company recently posted a reminder on its intranet, some employees expressed disappointment.
Spokeswoman Marce Edwards said the purpose of the dress code is to “foster a calm, healing environment.”
FORECAST CALLS FOR PAYNE
Greg Payne wears his loyalty under his sleeve. A tattoo of the Seahawks logo was a Father’s Day gift from his wife.
Payne, office coordinator for the chief clerk at the state House in Olympia, has been a Seahawks fan since the franchise debuted in 1976.
He splurged for season tickets in 2006, the year after their first Super Bowl appearance. Now he collects jerseys from opposing teams at garage sales and uses them for pregame fun.
“We’ll lay them down in the parking lot and let people drive over them,” Payne said.
This week he had a 49ers No. 11 jersey (the jersey of former quarterback Alex Smith) lying on the floor of his office for visitors to use as a door mat.
When an Associated Press photographer snapped a picture, Payne got more attention than he expected. The photo showed up on websites around Seattle and the Bay Area, and his daughter called to say it was getting thousands of likes on Instagram.
But he doesn’t like the idea that he’s firing up the 49ers and their fans.
“I’m not rubbing it in,” Payne said. “I always want there to be some back and forth, but I want everybody to leave smiling.”
Except on Sunday.
As it turns out, Debbie Tarnecki doesn’t bleed blue and green. But she does bleed for her team.
Tarnecki spent more than a week pushing Christmas lights through peg boards to illuminate her front yard with Seahawks pride. At one point, the painstaking work left her with bloody thumbs.
“But it was worth it,” she said.
A giant Seahawks logo and “Unleash the Beast” signs now glow in her front yard while a “12” fills an upstairs window. The site regularly stops traffic. Some take pictures. Others knock on the door and ask if they can buy the signs.
A local bar even requested to mount the display on its roof for the Super Bowl, Tarnecki said.
Tarnecki’s son, Wilson High student Peter Bstandig, is proud of his mom’s work and doesn’t mind the constant stream of attention.
They haven’t seen the electric bill yet, but Tarnecki says it will be worth it to display her team pride. In fact, she already has an idea for another sign if the Seahawks go to the Super Bowl.
Tacoma’s C.J. Dylina is no fair-weather fan. He’s been through all the ups and downs and says enduring the bad and mediocre makes seasons like this sweeter.
A fan since 1976 and a season ticket holder since ’95, Dylina wears a retro Jim Zorn jersey to games. His girlfriend, DeAnna Loutsis, wears a Steve Largent jersey.
“People say you’re so lucky to have season tickets,” Dylina said. “But I had them back when you couldn’t give them away. We’ve always loved the Hawks.”
NOT FOR SALE
The white 12th Man jersey hanging in the window gets plenty of attention from visitors at South Hill’s Olympic Sports and Spine.
“I even get offers to buy it,” said Robert Portello, the physical therapist assistant who owns the jersey. “The best offer was $80.”
Portello has been rooting for the Seahawks since his parents bought their first season tickets in the 1980s.
He says three 49ers fans are regulars at the clinic. While he harasses them, Portello says the ribbing is good-natured enough that patients still trust him to do deep tissue massage and hook them up to the electrical nerve-stimulus machine.
But most visitors are the types who wish they had Portello’s jersey.
“But it’s not for sale. It’s a collector’s item,” he said. He paused briefly, then added, “Maybe after they win the Super Bowl, when it’s worth more money.”
Michael Budd lives next to PJ Pedroni, a passionate 49ers fan in Fircrest whose story appeared in Friday’s News Tribune. The neighbors have a rivalry almost on par with their favorite teams.
Once Budd left for work unaware Pedroni had switched out his front license plate with one that read “No. 1 Niners Fan.”
Before the Seahawks-49ers game in September, Budd painted “Go Hawks!” on Pedroni’s lawn. Pedroni responded by painting “Go Niners” on the front of Budd’s house. (Budd was already planning to paint the house.) When the Seahawks won 29-3, Budd painted the score on his own home.
Budd has hidden Seahawks lawn gnomes on Pedroni’s property and even sneaked into his house and swapped the light bulbs for blues and greens.
One day he hopes to shrink wrap Pedroni’s house in Seahawks colors.
“I’m slowly collecting things like snow paint,” Budd said. “… It’s all good-natured, and we have a lot of fun.”
12 MAN PALE ALE LIDS
In his spare time, cycling advocate Matt Newport makes hats from beer cans. Recently his business, The Can Hattery (etsy.com/shop/TheCanHattery), received an order for a hat made from Dick’s Brewing Co.’s 12 Man Pale Ale.
The Tumwater man who placed the order sent him the empties early last week, and Newport got to work. Each hat takes about 31/2 hours to make.
“I hurried to get in the mail on Friday, and he called right as the game was starting to say it just showed up,” Newport said.
Some customers send empty cans, and sometimes he empties them himself, Newport said. The later approach, he notes, could affect his productivity should he get too many orders.
“I won’t be making any for the Bay Area for a few weeks,” Newport said. “We need to keep up the good karma. This is our year.”
SUPER BOWL OR BUST
Perhaps the most visible 12th Man Flag in the South Sound is flying above Tacoma’s Columbia Bank Building.
“We raised it for the playoffs, and we are going to keep it up until the Seahawks win the Super Bowl,” said David Devine, the bank’s marketing vice president.
Does that mean it will fly through next season if the Seahawks lose Sunday?
Devine laughs at this question.
“No, we put it up with the understanding they are going to win it all this year,” he said.
TALK IS CHEAP?
Wearing a 49ers sweatshirt, Patrick Davis bravely walked with his wife, Paris, in front of the University of Washington Tacoma on Friday, passing several Seahawks fans.
There was no trash talk from either side, but that didn’t change the way the couple feel about the Seahawks.
“They talk too much,” Patrick said with a wide smile. Then Paris added, “They’re like Oakland Raiders fans. They’re always talking mess.”
Caleb Singh, who was wearing a “Legion of Doom” sweatshirt, wasn’t far behind them. He laughed when he heard them.
“It’s OK to talk,” Singh said, “because we’re going to win.”
Diane Ladenberg showed up for work Friday at the County-City Building wearing a blue-and-green tutu, a Seahawks shirt, a bright green wig with long braids and team sunglasses.
“I’m a longtime Seahawks fan and I’m just excited,” the county executive assistant said.
She was taking part in a large group photo and 12th Man flag-raising ceremony. While many wore modern jerseys, County Executive Pat McCarthy removed her coat to reveal a personalized Steve Largent jersey.
As the group huddled for the photo, county spokesman Hunter George hollered, “Sea,” and the crowd responded with a deafening “Hawks.”
A woman holding a 12th Man flag seemed to brace herself.
“Whoa,” she said. “I think we’re ready for Sunday.”