by Jeff Johnson
Dear New England Patriots,
Thanks for ruining my kid’s Halloween. Given a choice of either trick-or-treating or seeing the Vikings vs. the Patriots, my 6 year-old chose to endure a four-hour car ride and attend his first ever NFL game. What he got in return was a swift kick in the pumpkins when you made him turn in his “dangerous” costume before he could enter Gillette Stadium. Truth be told, he didn’t even care about wearing his costume to the game, but I guess we were emboldened and delighted by YOUR statement to fans and the media.
FOXBOROUGH, Mass. — During his press conference on Friday, Patriots Head Coach Bill Belichick said it best: “What could be a better holiday than costumes and candy? How can you go wrong?”
To celebrate the occasion, the Patriots are encouraging fans of all ages to wear their Halloween costumes, and the first 1,000 children ages 12 and under to enter the stadium will receive a free bag of candy.
“We recognize many of our younger fans will be foregoing trick or treating to attend the game,” said Patriots spokesperson Stacey James. “We hope they still wear their costumes. If so, they may find themselves on a 164-foot HD video board.”
So we went for it! Only my kid never made it on your malfunctioning HD board, because some overfed walrus from your flunkie security vendor TeamOps thought the plastic horns from my little boy’s faux 8th-century Viking helmet were too “hard” and could, presumably, be used as a weapon inside of the stadium. After a few pleas for common sense (none prevailed), we opted not to walk 25 minutes through gale force winds back to parking lot P11 (a.k.a. Little Altamont) where we’d just dropped $40 for parking, and so the TeamOps guy gleefully took the treacherous toy helmet into his possession.
Shockingly, the “no horns” policy was not exactly protocol across the stadium, even though Captain Walrus said it was. Once inside, we saw a few different adult Viking fans wearing helmets with hard plastic (not foam, as a different TeamOps specialist later tried to convince me) horns, others in oversized hard plastic sunglasses, and several inebriated adults wearing hard plastic football helmets that could have conceivably been used as battering rams, by TeamOps logic.
That was the saddest part. That the people you put in charge of security failed to embrace your festive attitude. Their mission statement: “To provide peace of mind through innovative security solutions,” apparently could be interpreted as meaning, “We’re paranoid of what a six year-old fan, accompanied by his sober parent, might do at the game, with his Halloween costume — which the people who hired us ASKED fans to wear.” Or was the fear that the helmet would be stolen from my kid by some career felon (from our vantage point in Section 304, that wasn’t a stretch, actually) and the horns feverishly turned into shivs in the men’s room? That’s the true spirit of innovation, right there.
Is America such a lawsuit-happy, wussified collection of crybabies, willing to shout “gotcha” or worse on a series of costume technicalities that this sort of logic prevails as common sense? Is your security inside the stadium so horrifically bad that it’s not worth rolling the dice on a kid in a problematic Halloween costume? Do you plan on giving anyone at your games in December who playfully dresses as Santa Claus a body cavity search?
On the way out, there was now a female supervisor at the gate who didn’t care to help us, and discouraged us from rummaging through the dumpsters of confiscated items from the gate. Then we got to wait 95 minutes to drive out of the unpaved P11, where all neon-wearing the parking attendants had long vanished and there were 46 different streams of exit traffic converging into a frenzied, snarled mess. I half expected to find one of the members of Canned Heat taking a dump on the hood of my car. You’ve won like nine of the last twelve Super Bowls, and that’s what you call a parking lot? Jesus. At least the out-of-control bonfire that drunken Pats fans were leaping through was in the lot next to us. Apparently the TeamOps tough love doesn’t extend out beyond the gates.
Anyway, this is a lot of words to say: Don’t pretend to celebrate the holiday if the rent-a-cops you employ are too thick to play along with it. Absent the helmet, my kid’s Viking costume now resembles wardrobe from Riverdance. And that may be the greatest indignity of all.