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Old 07-21-2012, 11:26 PM   #1
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Default FOOTBALL: It’s Steelers country in the IE (for any SoCal Fans)

FOOTBALL: It’s Steelers country in the IE\
Free-lance photographer/MATTHEW SCHOENMANN
The Steelermobile is used as the backdrop to a group photo as the Black and Gold Brigade Southern California Chapter held its annual Steeler Picnic at Yucaipa Regional Park on Saturday.




Published: 21 July 2012 08:12 PM
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It wasn’t Heinz Field, and there was no sign of Troy Polamalu or Rashard Mendenhall, but Pittsburgh Steelers jerseys were in abundance on Saturday.

The Black and Gold Brigade Southern California Chapter held its annual Steeler Picnic at Yucaipa Regional Park. The event — now in its eighth year and attended by hundreds of Terrible Towel-waving fans from all over the region — began with just 10 to 15 friends who were looking for a reason to party together in the football offseason.

Organizer Richard Montecino plans and plays host to the throng, who all have one thing in common.

“About 90 percent of my life is devoted to this,” said Montecino, of San Bernardino, a Terrible Towel draped over his shoulder. “I know that’s probably a sad statement, but in reality it’s not, because I love my black and gold.”

“We came out here probably five or six years ago the first time, and he (Montecino) made us feel so welcome we thought we’ve got to come back every year, and every year we bring more people,” said Pat Catlin, of Garden Grove and head of the Los Alamitos Chapter.

While many in the group are Southern California natives who latched on to the team during its Steel Curtain glory days in the 1970s, others are transplants who were just in search of something to remind them of home.

“It means a whole lot to me,” said Kim Little, a Pittsburgh-area native who moved out to San Bernardino when she was stationed at Norton Air Force Base. “It brings me back to being in Pennsylvania, it brings me back to all my roots. I love cooking homemade stuff from Pittsburgh.”

Which is to say that the gathering doesn’t revolve around talk of X’s and O’s. It’s more about the food, camaraderie and raising funds for local charity.

Throughout the day, a DJ was spinning tunes and Montecino was raffling off Steelers memorabilia to benefit the Ronald McDonald House, Wounded Warriors and many other charities. The Inland Empire Chapter figures it has raised upwards of $10,000 since it started.

The fundraising continues throughout the season with a toy drive and when the chapter meets every Sunday at Stingers Bar and Grill in San Bernardino.

“They do a lot of the raffles and everything at the bar,” said Tina Gomez, Stingers Bar and Grill co-owner turned Steelers fan. “They’re a great bunch of people — they’re very passionate — and if you come for the game it’s a very different vibe. It’s exciting just to be there.”

A father and daughter duo from Yucaipa may be the most hardcore Steelers fan of them all, yet they just learned of the Black and Gold Brigade gatherings.

Thomas and Leah White have spent the past year turning their 1972 Dodge Motorhome into the Steelermobile, a black and gold beast showcasing the team logo, players’ numbers and even Steelers-themed curtains and interior. Thomas White is originally from Pennsylvania, but has been in Yucaipa for 49 years.

Both agreed that they would continue attending the yearly gathering and will begin frequenting Stingers. And the Steelermobile was such a hit, it was used as the backdrop to the event’s group photo.

One attendee, Nancy Phillips of Murrieta, who has family roots in Pennsylvania, attributed the large Inland area fanbase to the downfall of the Pittsburgh steel mills in the ‘70s and the rise of Kaiser Steel in Fontana, a city whose football team bears the same name as the professional team they all grew to love.

However it happened, the Black and Gold Brigade is alive and well in Southern California.
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Old 07-22-2012, 02:01 PM   #2
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Default Re: FOOTBALL: It’s Steelers country in the IE (for any SoCal Fans)

Hell yes! I live in Corona and have never attended. Glad I found this, I will next year!
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