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Gearing up for the BIG GAME
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Westside Ministries Bible Club members sell t-shirts and sweatshirts that read "Kap Town 209ers" and "Saint Nick" in front of Cost Less grocery store on Thursday. The ministry has sold out of merchandise six times in the past few weeks. - photo by BROOKE BORBA / The Journal



Turlock is preparing for a Super Bowl celebration like has never been seen before in this small Central Valley town.  From his high school alma mater to the streets of downtown and even City Hall, Turlock has thrown its full support to hometown hero and San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick as he and his team prepare to face the Baltimore Ravens in Super Bowl XLVII on Sunday.

Making the town's support of Kaepernick and the Niners official was Turlock Mayor John Lazar, who not only will read a city proclamation at the Turlock Education Foundation's tailgate party at Pitman High today, but also put his pride on the line with a cross-country bet.

Baltimore Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco's hometown mayor has made a deal with Lazar regarding the outcome of the Super Bowl. The Borough of Audubon, N.J.'s  mayor, John Ward, has agreed to sport a Kaepernick jersey to the next city council meeting if the 49ers win the Super Bowl. And likewise, if the Ravens bring home the trophy, Lazar will wear a Flacco jersey to the next Turlock City Council meeting.

City Hall is not the only place where Kaepernick fever is running rampant.  Ruben Hernandez, owner of It’ll Grow Back Hairstyles on South Broadway, has fully decorated his shop with 49ers gear, including an ironwood 49er football helmet, red furniture, banners, jerseys, jackets, a commemorative plaque on Kaepernick's single game record for most rushing yards: 181 by a Quarterback at Candlestick Park against Green Bay, a 2005 game football between Pitman and Turlock High — which he hopes to have signed by Colin in the future —  and custom made sign by Harders that says “Got Kaepernick? We do! Go Niners! Turlock, CA.”

“I’ve been a 49ers fan since 1979. I started watching during the glory days with Joe Montana, and it was electrifying. Then we went into a slump after Steve Young. But Kaepernick gets in there and things are starting to happen immediately,” said Hernandez. “We are just beginning to see what this kid is going to be.”

Helping Turlockers show their support for the Niners and Kaepernick was Westside Ministries, who sold "Kap Town 209ers" and "Saint Nick" t-shirts and sweatshirts in the Cost Less parking lot all week.

“We had no intention of selling shirts. We made them months ago. We originally made these shirts to have kids follow him as a role model,” said Westside Ministries director JoLynn DiGrazia. “We want as many people as possible to have one to wear for the Super Bowl. We have already sold out six times.”

Part of the profits from the shirt sales will sponsor youth football and cheerleading scholarships for Turlock's future sports stars.

Support for the red and gold didn't stop at decorations or apparel.  Local bakeries are featuring 49ers and Kaepernick themed cookies and cakes — and have raked in the cash significantly. Old Tyme Pastries has been inundated with large orders as cookie sales continue to go through the roof.

“The whole week has been like this,” owner Sherry Wagner said. “This is busier than Christmas.”

Football shapes, and logo cookies were one of the most popular sold, but nothing could compare to the Kaepernick jersey cookies. Old Tyme's Kaepernick jersey cookies are made with cinnamon and sugar, and cost approximately $2.45 a piece. Cupcakes with the number #7 cost $1.35, and a dozen cookies costs $29.40.

Lisa’s Cookie Jar has also seen a whirlwind of business, and owner Lisa Fernandes said she loves to show her support for Kaepernick since her daughter had ties with him as a child in confirmation class. The bakery features carefully decorated Kaepernick jerseys, football helmets and footballs. They also feature a Kaeperdoodle cookie with red and gold sprinkles.

“We are so proud of Colin,” Fernandes said. “We hope to keep baking these after Sunday’s game and celebrate the big win with more.”

Lisa’s Cookie Jar has already produced 400 cookies for Camp Taylor alone, Kaepernick’s charity of choice. The shop has also made five dozen cookies for a Dos Palos family to take to New Orleans for the big game.

Each cookie costs $3 apiece and is wrapped with a golden bow. For a dozen, Lisa's Cookie Jar is charging $36.

Local eateries and sports bars spent the past few days getting ready for the crowds of Niner fans expected to pack the town come Sunday.

Dust Bowl Brewing Company will be open on Sunday, and is continuing to sell the Kaepernick Special, a juicy burger with jalapenos and with your choice of beer for only $13.

“This burger is our tribute to him, and it is a positive thing for the whole town,” said Dust Bowl owner Brett Tate.

Wellington's Pub and Restaurant will be open on Sunday to house local fans, and will feature a Kaepernick drink special. Every time the special drink is ordered, a $2 donation will be presented to Camp Taylor.

Wellington's will also have a special Super Bowl menu with fried chicken and waffles, 49er fire wings, pulled pork sliders, a Tandoori chicken quesadilla with mango mint chutney, “Jucy Lucy” double beef patty burger, and a spicy bratwurst called Bang, Bang.

Jura’s Pizza had been taking reservations for Super Bowl parties throughout the week, and is sure to have a large turnout.  Jura's will offer a Kaep Special this weekend; $49 for takeout that includes an extra large pepperoni pizza with three dozen hot wings and a 2 liter of Pepsi.

For those who have a reservation to watch the game at Jura's, the restaurant is promoting a different special every quarter of the game. For the first quarter, a large pepperoni pizza is $14.49; for the second, a bucket of domestic beer for $7; for the third, a bread and cheese steak combo for $4.49 and the last quarter has 75 cent domestic beer.

“It is going to be slammed,” said employee Jennifer Perez.

One die-hard 49er fan will be watching the game from the comfort of her home, Elness Convalescent Hospital on Main Street in Turlock.

Victoria Salgado said she's been a San Francisco 49ers fan since she was born — in 1949.

"I'm a gold rush baby," she said.

Although originally from Texas, Salgado has been a Niners fan since moving to California 40 years ago. Her room at Elness is covered in 49er gear, with a whole wall dedicated to her favorite player, Kaepernick.

"I just love the way he plays," she said.

Salgado isn't alone in her support for Turlock's own Super Bowl standout.

— Kristina Hacker contributed to this report.