Every professional football team has their following, and every team has their crazy superfan whom die-hards recognize either tailgating or at the game. The Cleveland Browns are no exception, with Gus Angelone, aka "Pumpkinhead," as one of the most recognizable fans in Cleveland.
Like many Cleveland fans, Angelone's fandom began at an early age.
"My passion really grew in the '80s during the Kosar years," Angelone shared. "I always loved watching Bernie going to Brian Brennan and Webster Slaughter for his big plays. I'll never forget those days growing up and the heartache I received watching Denver break our hearts twice."
But it wasn't until around 2002 when Angelone's fanaticism really began to take shape and develop into the fan icon we know today as Pumpkinhead. He was gracious enough to open up and reveal how and why it all began.
"I was a local DJ at a popular nightclub on Cleveland's West Side, and after five or six years working as a DJ on the weekends, I met the love of my life, Sarah. After she blew me off for over a year, I finally got her to go out with me. When my wife and I got serious, I stopped working at the club due to all the temptations with other girls and just being in a club at night. With that being said, I still craved a way to get some positive attention," Angelone shared.
"In 2002, I believe the Browns made a minor uniform adjustment. They changed the color of the facemask from white to gray and also the color of the helmet to pumpkin orange. So that gave me an idea. Around Halloween of that year, I carved a real pumpkin and wore it to the Browns game. I received so much attention and had so much fun, I wanted to wear a pumpkin every game. Unfortunately, after Thanksgiving, pumpkins are out of season and you can't get them anymore. So the next season, I went to the craft store and bought a replica pumpkin and have been wearing the one you see ever since," he explained.
Through the years, Angelone has become a celebrity, with fellow fans flocking to have their picture taken with him. He strives to make his costume as close to what the players wear as possible. He has gone a step further, establishing an official Browns Backers club known as the Pumpkin Patch, and with that group, he's started giving back to the community he calls home.
"My Browns Backers club and I have tried to give back and have given thousands to local charities. The one that sticks out most is when we helped one family buy a companion dog for their disabled son. We weren't able to pay for the whole dog [which cost $14,000], but we did help them quite a bit," Angelone stated.
Helping his community, love for his family, and establishing strong positive friendships are all aspects of Angelone's life that he holds dear. Those are admirable qualities you will find in the man under the pumpkin head.
To learn more about the Pumpkin Patch Browns Backers, please visit PumpkinNation.org.
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