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Despite the cold and a stinging wind, the Moores and friends stayed comfy with hot chili and chicken wings.
“It’s the end of an era, but it’s been a lot of fun,” said Sara Peulen, a fan from Chisago City, as she tossed peppers and potato skins on a nearby grill.
By 10 a.m., the sweet scent of both wafted across the parking lot. By 11 a.m., a steady stream of fans hustled up the street and through the stadium gates, where ticket holders received commemorative purple pennants.
By the time the Lions kicked off at noon, the crowd was in a tizzy. For the next three hours fans cheered and groaned and cussed and pumped fists in a game that was more routine than remarkable.
But to most watching, the details didn’t seem to matter.
“This is history going down,” said Patti Lang, 35, who grew up in Bloomington but now lives in Oregon. “It’s a big deal.”
“This is our childhood,” said her friend, Alissa Thorsland, of Hopkins. “We grew up here.”
Three hours later, the Vikings trotted off the artificial turf for a final time with a one-point victory, thanks largely to rookie Cordarrelle Patterson, who ran 50 yards for one touchdown and caught a short pass for another score late in the game to deliver the win.
As the final gun sounded, fans rose to cheer and salute. Cellphone cameras flashed. Some fans blew kisses. Others sang “Skol Vikings” and raced out the revolving doors, slapping their palms against the exit sign to Kirby Puckett Place.
“This stadium, even though it might not have been perfect, it was us,” former Vikings center Matt Birk said in a brief, postgame ceremony at midfield.
A personal souvenir
High in the second deck, sisters Shawn Schmitz, 43, of St. Louis Park and Natalie Crawford, 40, of Billings, Mont., pulled out a purple and gold boa and began plucking feathers. Their mother had made the boa for Crawford, a self-described “serious Vikings fan,” more than 20 years ago.
But now, the sisters thought it only fitting to leave it behind.
As a final round of fireworks sounded and fans headed to the exits, the sisters picked the boa clean, tossing each feather over the side of the second deck railing, fluttering to the seats below.
“Yeah,” Crawford said as she teared up, “it’s kind of sad.”
“It’s very sad,” Schmitz said as she hugged her sister. “But we thought we’d leave the feathers. It seems only fitting that they stay here and go down with the Dome.”
Richard Meryhew • 612-673-4425