LONDON — You can be forgiven for wondering if anyone stayed in Wisconsin this weekend, with so many fans of the state’s Green Bay Packers roaming the streets of London.
They. Are. Everywhere.
And on Friday evening a particularly large number of them, most of the 750 members of Event USA’s touring group, gathered for a cocktail party at Banking Hall near the Bank of England, many after visiting Paris on Thursday. .
“The whole city has been like this. We don’t see much blue,” said Cindy Suplinski of Green Bay. “We arrived early on Tuesday. It’s a beautiful city.”
The Packers are scheduled to face the New York Giants (hence the mention of the blues) at 8:30 a.m. (Central) on Sunday at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium. And it’s true, if the Giants fans are here in number, they don’t hang around central London.
Ashwaubenon’s USA event kept people busy all week, providing access to sights such as the Tower of London, St. Paul’s Cathedral, Big Ben, Westminster Abbey, Buckingham Palace and the London Eye , and, as mentioned, an excursion to Paris.
“We’ve had people come in every day. This will be the first time they’ve all been together,” said Steve Nickel of Event USA. All of their tours sold out long before this weekend.
Surprisingly, with hundreds of Packers fans gathered in one place, only two wore heads of cheese at Friday’s party, including Peshtigo’s Sue Behnke. It was a badge of honor, but also a little embarrassing when she wore it in London.
“We were stopped by everyone and they wanted to take pictures with us,” Keith Behnke said.
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Dave McRoberts’ father Robert played one game at guard for the Packers in 1944. He was a 5-foot-10, 250-pound player for the University of Wisconsin-Stout. One game wasn’t much, he didn’t even start, but it was enough to make him a Packer.
For his part, Dave, who lives in Kenosha, would be delighted to see the Packers playing in London again.
“These people are nice,” he said of the host city residents.
Not everyone is from Kenosha, Kaukauna and Kewaunee County. Hannes Hirschfeld and Sophie Römer of Magdeburg, Germany, admiring the view from London Bridge, were London veterans and Packers. Hirschfeld visited London twice and Lambeau Field twice. He’s a Packers fan because his dad was. Why her father was is not known, but no longer matters.
“He’s a really big fan,” Römer said of young Hirschfeld. She is too. “If I didn’t like it, I wouldn’t be here.”
Fredrik Swedborg from Luleå in northern Sweden would like to go to Lambeau Field one day. He had planned to when COVID-19 hit and disrupted everyone’s plans. But he’s more than happy to see the Packers in London.
“I’ve been waiting for this for a very long time,” he said, sporting a Packers cap near London Bridge.
As he is with many fans, Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers was responsible for Swedborg’s love of American football and the Packers in particular. He and his college friends watched American football on TV, and Rodgers’ usual excellent game didn’t escape him. It hooked him.
Alex Jadin, a Green Bay native who now lives in Prior Lake, Minnesota, selects a Packers road trip with friends every year. Coming to London was a no-brainer. It’s his third time in London, so he knows the best places.
“We’ve been waiting for the London game for 15 years,” he said.
They were in Arizona last year, which ended a 12-game road losing streak.
Sharon Powell and Patty Schumacher, both from Milwaukee, were thrilled to be in London.
“We wanted to do different venues and that popped up,” Schumacher said.
“I would go to another country next year,” Powell said, although both admitted it was more difficult for the players than the fans.
“We met Packers fans from all over the world,” Schumacher said. “We met a Hungarian family who are Packers fans.”
There were many reasons to come to London, said Kaukauna’s Rob Hanawitz.
“I just think it was going to be a once-in-a-lifetime experience,” he said, “and we’re old enough if the Packers come back to Europe, we might not be included in that anymore. And that’s a It was also the first time the Packers went overseas, which was pretty cool.