Just like the teams in Sunday’s Super Bowl, fans across Ellis County have been preparing for the big game.
O’Loughlin Elementary in Hays and Washington Elementary in Ellis created their own hype videos for the Kansas City Chiefs. Cakes and cookies and other red-themed foods are flying off the shelves, and jerseys, t-shirts, flags and banners create a sea of red.
But look closely and you might see not all of that red is for the Chiefs.
Yes, there are San Francisco 49ers fans in Hays, America — some of them under the same roofs as Chiefs fans.
California-born Carrie Silva-Thomas has lived in Hays for almost 18 years, and has stayed true to her roots. She’s been a 49ers fan for 45 years.
“I was born one,” she said Saturday in her family’s home at Countryside Estates. Her family usually has a party for the Super Bowl, but this year they’ve gone all out.
Flags for both teams fly from the porch, and inside, balloons for both decorated a table that featured a cake of Chiefs Quarterback Patrick Mahomes’ headband and hair surrounded by 49ers cupcakes.
They were the only 49ers cupcakes she saw at Walmart, but there will also be a “house divided” cake from Dillon’s tomorrow, she said.
Carrie shares her love of her team with her husband, Steve, and almost all of their seven children and grandchildren. Daughter Elizabeth, 17, is the lone Chiefs fan, at least in the immediate family, but she gets support from in-laws Darcy and Sean Thomas, Russell.
“I pretty much grew up with my grandpa and grandma. My grandpa was a huge Chiefs fan and I just kind of like to follow him,” Elizabeth said.
He passed away in the last year, so it’s a way for Elizabeth to remember and connect with him, Carrie said.
There’s been a lot of good-natured ribbing among the family members over their rival teams since the two teams won their respective championships.
“It’s been kind of a dream Super Bowl to be such a 49ers fan in Kansas with all these radical Chiefs fans,” Carrie said. “We’ve been sending back and forth lots of banter. Sean, my brother-in-law, has been sending me lots of Facebook videos on the 49ers being destroyed.”
Even daughter Ayva Silva-Thomas and Avery Knopp have remained best friends, even though their loyalties are split.
Carrie’s husband, Steve, took some ribbing during a stay at Hays Medical Center last week. The hospital cafeteria was decked out Kansas City red for a staff party.
“He had to be in the hospital during their Chiefs tailgating party,” Carrie said with a laugh. “So I, of course, took his 49ers balloon to his room.”
“Boy did I hear it,” Steve said. “The nurses were threatening to pop it.”
Even grandsons Maverick and Matix Silva have gotten into the rivalry, wearing 49ers uniforms complete with helmets.
Carrie admits she’s maybe gone a bit overboard with the 49ers memorabilia, but she said it’s difficult to find anything for her team in Hays. She had a good source, though — her mother in California sent a “goodie box” after the team won the NFC championship.
The Silva-Thomas family isn’t the only house divided in Hays. Holly and Chad Augustine showed their loyalties Friday — Holly in a Chiefs jersey and Chad in a 49ers t-shirt — at their business, Augustine’s Bakery, 1305 Main.
Some of their customers were surprised to find out Chad was a 49ers fan, the couple said.
“We’ve kept it somewhat on the down-low,” Holly said. “Our better customers that we see all the time, a lot of them know what’s going on, but most people don’t. So when they started showing up to pick up their cookies and Chad has his shirt on, they’re like ‘whoa!”
Holly said she’s a lifelong Chiefs fan.
“I was raised a Chiefs fan. My dad always was. I can still remember him yelling at Marty Schottenheimer,” she said of the Chiefs’ head coach from 1989 to 1998. “He loved to hate him,” she said.
Chad, who grew up in Hays, said he’s always been a 49ers fan, especially in the Joe Montana era in the 1980s.
“It’s the first Super Bowl I remember watching, the 49ers-Dolphins,” he said.
The couple even has a bet going. Their car will sport a front tag of whichever teams.
Two of their three daughters are Chiefs fans, including one who lives in Denver and wears Chiefs garb to Denver Broncos games, and the oldest is a Packers fan, Holly said.
The Augustines have been busy in the lead-up to Sunday’s game. Their bakery specializes in custom baked goods, and the Chiefs’ first appearance in the Super Bowl in 50 years has been good for business.
Normally for the Super Bowl, they might see orders for about 10 to 20 dozen cookies, said Holly, who does most of the kitchen work.
This year, they made and decorated about 150 dozen Chiefs cookies and one Chiefs/49ers cake. That’s in addition to their usual weekend orders of about 15 birthday cakes. It’s meant some longer hours than normal, and they actually had to cut off taking all orders early last week in order to have time to complete everything.
More than 40 dozen of the cookies went out the door early Friday morning, many for workplace potlucks, they said.
Holly didn’t even have an arrowhead cookie cutter until October. It cost $5.
“We’ve always just done football cookies and we had people asking for arrowheads. We totally got our money’s worth out of that,” she said.
While the Augustines will watch Sunday’s game, they’re not planning a big party.
“It would make sense for us to throw a party, being the divided house. But I really just want to sit and watch the game,” Holly said.
And will any of those Chiefs cookies be at their home for the game?
“Most likely not,” Holly said with a laugh.