Teresa Forton-Barnes was born to feast, celebrate and spread the wealth of entertainment. For him, the bottle is neither half full nor half empty. It’s full. As the founder and owner of Events to Tee, his motto has always been “Go big or stay home!”
“Ti,” as her friends know her, is also a “huge fan of Bills,” which can clearly be the “Queen of Bills Mafia”. A ticket holder for the last 25 years, he has never missed a home game, regardless of the weather or team record, and will never go out until the end of the game. He has led customers to more than a dozen super cups and he has supported his beloved bills front and center over the past 30 seasons in four straight superballs with them.
Like most “hard” fans she has her own game day rituals and in the years before the pandemic it started from the Big Tree Inn parking lot on the corner of Abbott Road and 20A and minutes away from Will Stadium. In the lot next door, 97 rock Dave Jickster and Rich “Bull” Gentzler host a party at the station gate, which means the field is filled with Bill fans. The Tee Gate celebration is unique because you can imagine if you know how he rolls. Years ago, his usual group of eight friends from South Buffalo, who joined in the style of the real bill mafia, set out to buy a used RV, which was completely decorated and painted as part of a bill party plan, at both $ 500. did. The RV is called “Theo Shasta” and has its own Facebook page. The entrance door of the RV toilet is a wall of fame with signatures from the legendary alumni of Bills and other VIPs. The owners of the Shasta Theater call themselves the “Tail Gate Specialists”.
For each clear house bill, the Tailgate Party Tee announces its annual forecast – “The bill will go to Super Bowl this year.” “I’m an eternal optimist and every year I make this prediction, everyone laughs at me,” she says with a laugh. Before each game, he closes in on Tailgate’s schedule and to cover the cost of the amazing chicken wings and pizza, he orders from the Big Tree Inn to pay with a wide selection of drinks inside the RV. “I missed not being there this year, but when we get back to sewing, things will get out of control,” she said. “I really missed it all.”
When the COVID-19 pandemic began closing businesses in New York State and around the world last March and continued until the summer, Forton-Barnes was concerned that the NFL would be able to play all season, less so in front of fans. . “I was very impressed with how the NFL has done this in an unprecedented season,” she said. “I was happy that they were able to play and I was very happy that the team won so much in the division and it was the second round of the playoffs.
“What I’ve missed the most this season is that I’m out there screaming for these players to be the rest of the Mafia Bills,” he said. “The mafia bill is that we are as a fan and our membership is around the world and when the bills continue in the playoffs, so all the national advertising that they offer to our fans and the Bills Mafia is growing. “
As the Bills prepare for their AFC Division round game against the Baltimore Ravens on Saturday, Tee is impressed by what he sees on the field. “The success of this team brings back so many memories of the Super Bowl years with Jim (Kelly), Andre (Reed), Thurman (Thomas), (Steve) Tasker, Bruce (Smith), Biscuit (Cornelius Bennett) and everyone else. This is serious. This is no longer a joke. These bills are good, ”he said, emphasizing the goods.
As a season ticket holder, Forton-Barnes was eligible for tickets to last Saturday’s wild card game against his friend, Frank Reich and Indianapolis Colts. He could have given up for the game this week, but the thought never crossed his mind.
“I was there for the last playoff game at home 25 years ago, which made this game historic, especially with a pandemic. There was no way I could miss it,” she said. After she and her friend, Kathleen Hart-France, passed a negative test, they decided to go to the Stadium last Saturday without any side effects. It was definitely a football game and they were there to cheer their Bills.
“I’ve never dressed for a game before,” she said. “I left it to others, but I didn’t know any of these amazing costume fans would be in the game, so I went to Amazon and bought everything. We wanted to have a hat with Buffalo horns, and when someone sent me a photo of Fred and Barney to Yubba Dubba Do – Go Bills, I had to have Wilcro Signs create this sign for us. ”
So they went so far as nine people dressed as fans of the Bills and had four roller coasters that they lifted from their front seats at level 200.
“It was a great experience and the entire Bills organization did an amazing job inside and outside the stadium,” he said. “You can feel that much energy in a building alone, even with 6,700 people. Everyone was very happy and when we left after the victory, everyone was flying high. It felt like 70,000 people were in the stadium and I know the players felt the energy too. It was very cold. ”
Forton-Barnes is also thrilled with what’s happening in the city around Saturday’s playoff victory, especially with Mayor Byron Brown encouraging fans to support their team in front of banners in the town hall.
“Now we’re really in the playoffs,” he said of the AFC final. “I’m sure the team and the city will take it up a few steps. Maybe it’s because of COVID, but I’ve seen a lot of people from young children to grandparents come behind this team. ”
Forton-Barnes also believes it could be the year the Bills go to the Super Cup in Tampa Bay, but this time, he believes they will come out on top with a win.
“It would really make sense to have the Bills in Tampa Bay for a super cup in the year of the COVID pandemic,” she said. “It’s just Buffalo, because right now, all the parties and celebrations before the game have all been canceled.”
As she imagines it’s an amazing season for the Bills, Tee couldn’t help but put on her event marketing cap to see if the Buffalo horns are there or not.
“Going back to when the Bills were in four super cups, I was all about working with the city and the team at a grand celebration in Buffalo,” he said. “Last month after we beat San Francisco in a game on Monday night to go 9-3, I was really confident that this team is on the way to greatness, so when we won the Super Cup in February. I sent a message to the mayor of Brown with my holiday plan. ”
Given the social distance protocols for the rally, he knew there would be no work or parade on Delaware Square to stop millions of people from coming to Niagara Square.
“The idea I gave to the mayor involves a five-hour and timely parade through West New York to let residents know that a parade of flat trailers is coming to their city so they can take to the streets and cheer on the players,” he explained. she. “I made sure we made the beds as comfortable and warm as possible for the players and their families, which was complemented by drinks and beautiful portable lounges. We worked with all the police and the city to create a map that the media could promote so that everyone knew when we would be here. We descended the I-190 on the banks of the Niagara River and the footballers were airlifted to the side of their Canadian fans. ”
Ti said the mayor texted him … ”Good idea. We will see.”
As for Saturday’s playoff game with the Ravens, Ti won’t be at Will Stadium, but he handed his special hats to a friend who proudly covers them with instructions to bring them back with a second playoff win in Buffalo.
Regarding Tee’s prediction on Saturday: Bills 34. Zogon 24. “I’m tired,” she shouted. And it’s only on Thursday.
All photos from the Theresa Forton-Barnes collection