Weird Caps Fans: Giant Hands
After I innocently suggested that Caps fans had more quirk to them than Rangers fans, the hate poured down. "Rangers fans are not mutant side show freaks," one noted. "We do not paint our faces, put our hair up in mohawks and dye them colors, put our hair into horrible looking mullets, or wear masks to create a side show about ourselves; we watch the game (GASP!)."
Well, sure, Caps fans watch the games too. They just often do so with, for example, giant hands hanging around their neck.
I was supposed to write about Frank Hallam, Steve Nowowiejski and their giant hands months ago, but it got lost in the shuffle. This seemed as good a time as any. Longtime Caps fans will recall that, before last year, there were a set of two big, animated hands that slowly came together in a clapping motion during power plays, with no apparent rhythm or musical accompaniment. Just a weird set of hands in a half-empty arena.
Last year, the arena got a new screen, and new graphics, and the hands disappeared. To keep their spirit alive, Frank and Steve started clapping slowly at the beginning of power plays. Then they realized it'd be better if they clapped with oversized hands.
They considered Shrek hands. They considered Mickey Mouse hands. They considered "Inflata-Hands," described on their Web site as "Humongous Inflatable Hands." And then, finally, they discovered these green Ogre hands on a Halloween costume site.
The ogre hands "seemed to be over-sized enough to be noticeable, but still looked somewhat human, as the original animated hands did," Frank wrote to me. "The only problem with them was the color; however, my wife Dawn took care of that by painting them a nice skin-tone like color."
Frank found some Ovechkin-like yellow shoelaces so the hands could be stored around their necks when not in use, and they were good to go. They made their debut last April against Carolina, and the power play converted twice. Since then, the hands have been a Sect. 406 staple.
Like any weird fan behavior, they have very specific rules. The hands only go on for a power play. They only go on at the start of a man-advantage; power plays that carry over between periods don't count. The hands are only clapped together before the puck is dropped.
Fans occasionally ask these guys why they're wearing giant ogre hands. Team employees have also asked for an explanation. And security staffers often give the hands a double-take.
"But they almost always get a smile," Frank said.
And so, to the Corner Bar folks who chant "It's All Your Fault," to the fan who dresses like Bret Michaels, to the guy who wears a Weagle earring he got as a Christmas present and the woman with the fake red eyelashes and the guy who wears the goal siren on top of his head, to the hundreds of Caps fans with ridiculous personalized jerseys and strange superstitions, to Goat and Horn Guy, to the red mohawks and the customized sneakers and the Australian bucket hats with Canadian flags, add the giant ogre hands. That's all I meant, New York. But your business suits are cool, too.
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