Cause for applause: Seahawks fever grips Oak Harbor as fans show their passion for NFL team bound for the Super Bowl

Debra Fitzwater, rear, and Tammy Hornback cheer while watching a big screen TV that featured the NFC Championship game at Louie-G’s Pizza restaurant Sunday in Oak Harbor. The Seahawks earned a Super Bowl trip with a 23-17 win over the 49ers. - Ron Newberry/Whidbey News-Times
Debra Fitzwater, rear, and Tammy Hornback cheer while watching a big screen TV that featured the NFC Championship game at Louie-G’s Pizza restaurant Sunday in Oak Harbor. The Seahawks earned a Super Bowl trip with a 23-17 win over the 49ers.
— image credit: Ron Newberry/Whidbey News-Times

It’s going to be a while before Joanne Hartley can stop smiling.

The grin was still wide Monday. She was still even wearing her blue hat.

“It might take a year to quit smiling,” she said. “After we win the Super Bowl, maybe.”

Hartley, an ardent Seattle Seahawks fan from Oak Harbor, was still abuzz Monday, a day after the Seahawks defeated the San Francisco 49ers to clinch the franchise’s second berth into the Super Bowl.

The lady friends call “Mama Seahawk” survived not one, but two big parties in Oak Harbor over the weekend.

The first came during the official Seahawks rally staged at Flyers Restaurant and Brewery Friday night. The second came when Hartley and her husband gathered with friends at the Oak Harbor home of a close friend Sunday for two special occasions: the NFC Championship game and Hartley’s 77th birthday.

Hartley asked for just one thing Sunday ­— and got it when the Seahawks secured a 23-17 victory.

“I got my birthday wish,” she said.

The celebration was one of many that took place on Whidbey Island over the weekend.

Seahawks fans, known as the 12th man, arrived in droves at Flyers Restaurant Friday night for the official rally. Covered outside seating was added to accomodate the overflowing crowd.

Louie-G’s Pizza and China City restaurants hosted similar events in Oak Harbor Saturday night.

It marked the third 12th man rally staged on Whidbey Island in the past month, starting with a gathering of about 150 blue and green clad fans at the Deception Pass bridge on Dec. 28. About the same number of fans gathered at the Coupeville Wharf on Jan. 5.

The tradition will continue Saturday, Jan. 25, with a 12th man rally planned aboard the Clinton ferry bound for Mukilteo.

Rally organizer Kory Dyer, who’s from Oak Harbor, is asking fans to park at the park-and-ride at the top of the hill in Clinton. Starting at 10:15 a.m., they’ll walk down the hill to the terminal and board the ferry as walk-on passengers.

The Super Bowl between the Seahawks and Denver Broncos will take place Feb. 2 at MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford, N.J.

“It’s great to be a Seahawks fan,” Oak Harbor mayor Scott Dudley said from the rally at Flyers Friday night.

Dudley, a fan since his childhood days in Olympia, showed up at the rally sporting a curly blue wig and Seahawks stickers under his eyes. Many didn’t recognize him.

“For a long time growing up, we were the laughingstock of the NFL,” Dudley said. “The fans didn’t waver. It’s great to finally see some success.”

Dudley said that the City of Oak Harbor is showing its allegiance by flying a 12th man flag in town.

It’s that sort of support that warms Hartley’s heart.

She’s been a Seahawks fan since the franchise started in 1976. Her husband, Russell Hartley, is a diehard fan, too.

Every Sunday, Hartley, her husband and a group of friends gather at the home of close friend Mike Kennefick near Dugualla Bay.

Out of tradition and superstition, Hartley will bring an assortment of props every week, including Seahawk gnomes that must be set up a certain way.

She spent the game, hollering and texting back and forth with her daughters in California who are 49ers fans.

Kennefick said they sang happy birthday for Hartley before and after the game.

“It was a great game,” Hartley said. “They had me worried for a while.”

Hartley is crazy about Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson and isn’t bothered too much by the antics of Richard Sherman, who became a lightning rod over his postgame remarks Sunday.

“He’s just a young man,” Hartley said. “That’s it. Sometimes, that happens. In the passion of the moment, we all sometimes say the wrong things.”

It will be tough for Hartley to contain her excitement in the buildup to the Super Bowl.

She has some mixed feelings, but not enough to get too carried away.

She’s always liked the Broncos’ biggest star.

“I’ve always been a Peyton Manning fan no matter who he’s playing for,” she said.

“I hate to tell him: ‘The boom is coming. I love you to death, but look out.’”


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