Cheesus rallying Houston Packer fans.

A Journey Into Packers Nation - Houston

on-the-road-logoA week ago I launched a Kickstarter campaign to fund a book project, “On the Road with the Green & Gold – A Journey Into Packer Nation.” A project I am very passionate about.

As a life-long Packer fan, born and raised in Wisconsin, but now residing in Portland, Ore., I am curious about the vigor and reach of the Packers’ fan base.

The goal of this project is to take an interactive adventure into the belly of the beast of Packer Nation. I would attend games at both Lambeau Field and away venues, as well as watch games at various Packer bars across the country. Along the way I would blog about this journey and ultimately write a book detailing game day traditions and stories heard from Packers fans around the United States. Because everyone has a story or stories that connect them to the team and one another.

After launching the campaign I reached out to a number of Packer Bars across the country to tell them what I was up to and ask them and their patrons about their game day traditions and learn why I should visit their bar and write about their corner of Packer Nation. I received an outpouring of response. Fans from Spain, New York City, Orlando, Houston, Texas, and so on emailed me to give me snapshot of their Packer Pride.

Packers Nation, this is of course sight unseen. But Houston has no problem showing their passion for the Green & Gold.

Amy Fritzer - GM of CHPH and Sara - Secretary of CHPH

Amy Fritzer – GM of CHPH and Sara – Secretary of CHPH

I received an email from Amy Fritzer, the General Manager of the Cheddarhead Pack of Houston (CHPH) that was quite simply oozing with enthusiasm for the Green Bay Packers. What I also took away from this email and a follow up telephone conversation with Amy was a desire to carry on and maintain traditions that most likely originated in Green Bay or somewhere in Wisconsin that serve as a bridge to not only the Packers, but friends and family.

The Cheddarhead Pack of Houston is a non-profit organization founded in 1998 with more than 900 dues-paying members with three and soon to be four chapters in the Houston area. Their headquarters and founding chapter is a bar called Nick’s Sports Bar and Grill. Over 200 Packer fans converge at Nick’s to watch games where they serve $1 Johnsonville Brats and German potato salad, of course shots of blackberry brandy and quarterly raffles for Packer paraphernalia.

Houston Packer fans celebrate at CHPH North

Houston Packer fans celebrate at CHPH North

In addition to their Headquarters’ chapter, there is CHPH North in Humble/Atascocita which is celebrating 10 years of membership. Like Nick’s, more than 200 fans gather to watch games with the CHPH North chapter. There is a third chapter in Bay Area in League City and CHPH in the Woodlands. To gain membership the chapters must abide by “The System.” A set of rules and quality assurance measures to ensure Packer fans in Houston receive a genuine Packer experience and the CHPH brand is held in high regard.

The pure volume of Packers fans in Houston is impressive, as is the level of organization and desire to put a good product forward. However, what closed the deal on my appreciation for the Cheddarhead Pack of Houston’s game day tradition is a man named JT, who goes by Cheesus on Packer Sundays. Yes you read that correct, Cheesus. Love it!

Cheesus in center

Cheesus in center

Within the friendly confines of Nick’s there is faux end zone wall in which Cheesus does a rendition of the Lambeau Leap for every Packer touchdown. Not only that, Cheesus is insured in the event he lands on the injured reserve as a result of his leap.

Barbara Erceg, a founding member of CHPH messaged me and relayed that she took her sister; who was visiting from Wauwatosa, Wisconsin, to Nick’s to take in a Packers game. Her sister was blown away by her Packers experience in Houston and stated, “This place is more Wisconsin than Wisconsin!”

CHPH honoring Dan The Rev who had passed away

CHPH honoring Dan The Rev who had passed away

The Green Bay Packers serve as a Linchpin that not only connects people to the team, but to friends and family near and far. Tradition connects people and creates common ground. In a fragmented society the Green Bay Packers bring unity.

As Packers fans we are fortunate to be a part of this community. I believe that there are stories within Packers Nation that need to be told, bars that should be put on the map and people like Cheesus that should be celebrated. That is why I am pursuing this project.

To learn more about how to participate and help “On the Road with the Green & Gold – A Journey Into Packer Nation” succeed click here. And be sure to email or tweet me with stories about your corner of Packer Nation.

In addition to writing for Lombardiave.com Patrick Hughes is the creator of “On the Road with the Green & Gold – A Journey Into Packer Nation.” Patrick also blogs about garden design at Wheel & Barrow Landscape, and formerly wrote for Oregon Sports News.

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