Green Bay Packers fans are brave for weathering the cold. Here's how they make it through.

·5 min read

Jeff Kahlow attended the 2008 NFC championship game between the Green Bay Packers and the New York Giants, one of the coldest games in Lambeau Field history.

"I witnessed people that would open up a can of beer, and within 15 minutes, their beer would be frozen right over," Kahlow, a 20-year season ticket holder, told USA TODAY Sports. "Your skin feels like needles are poking at you. It was that cold outside."

It was minus 1 that day, with wind chills that made it feel like minus 23. Although Saturday's divisional playoff game between the Packers and San Francisco 49ers isn't expected to be that cold, it's forecast to be around 5 degrees by the end of the game at Lambeau Field, known as "The Frozen Tundra." But the bitter cold "doesn’t hold Packer fans back," Kahlow said with a laugh.

A little wind – wind chills that make it feel like minus 10 – isn't going to put a damper on the cheeseheads' spirits on Saturday. Loyal Green Bay fans embrace the bitter cold. It's a source of pride and their identity, so much so that Kahlow, 61, personifies the freezing temperatures in the stands as "Frozen Tundra Man."

"The aura of Green Bay and Packer football is the cold weather," Kahlow, of Fond Du Lac, Wisconsin, said. Donna Mueller, 67, of Neenah, Wisconsin, said cold games "bond" Packers fans in a special way: "We are tough people who aren't afraid of frozen, numb toes."

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Week 17: Green Bay Packers fan Jeff Kahlow watches from the stands during the game against the Minnesota Vikings at Lambeau Field.
Week 17: Green Bay Packers fan Jeff Kahlow watches from the stands during the game against the Minnesota Vikings at Lambeau Field.

And while the rest of us track weather forecasts and bundle up in front of the television, Kahlow and Packers fans know one thing – They'll be there. Here's how they prepare:

Wear 'many, many layers'

Nick Lilja, a 37-year-old meteorologist from De Pere, Wisconsin, goes to "one or two games a year," mainly in the winter months. Because, as he told USA TODAY Sports, "there’s no other experience like a January football game in Lambeau Field."

With his expertise as a weather forecaster and a Packers fan, Lilja has two key tips to dressing warm at cold games: "Multiple layers" and "hand warmers everywhere."

"I go with three layers for the legs and four layers up top. You want to trap some of that warmer air inside," Lilja said, adding that he uses hand warmers "in each boot, too, on top of my toes" and "in (his) pockets to grab a hold of between clapping and yelling."

Lilja said "the No. 1 mistake people make is they put on one big jacket and think they are fine. You're not."

Karen Waldkirch, a 37-year season ticket holder, agreed.

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Nick Lilja and girlfriend Morgan Barry attend a Green Bay Packers game at Lambeau Field.
Nick Lilja and girlfriend Morgan Barry attend a Green Bay Packers game at Lambeau Field.

"The secret, in our experience, is layers. Many, many layers," Waldkirch, a Wauwatosa, Wisconsin, native, told USA TODAY Sports. "I also wear enormous boots so that I can wear lots of socks and air can circulate around my feet, thereby keeping them warm."

She added: "Mittens over gloves are a must."

Waldkirch, 61, and her husband, Tom, 63, will be one of 81,000 fans packed in Lambeau Field on Saturday, soaking up whatever body heat emits from the electric crowd. But unlike a majority at Lambeau Field, the Waldkirchs will watch from padded seats, as opposed to aluminum bench seating that "will suck the warm right out of you."

"There's nothing worse," Lilja said. "If you are going to be sitting down on a bleacher when it's zero degrees outside, that bleacher, no matter how long you're sitting there, is still zero degrees." Portable seats and blankets are recommended for bench seating.

Or you can choose to stand. "A lot of people don't sit down," Kahlow said. "You can move around … while you are standing and your adrenaline and blood flow is better."

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Karen Waldkirch, Maria Waldkirch, Dan Waldkirch and Tom Waldkirch attend a Green Bay Packers game in 2017.
Karen Waldkirch, Maria Waldkirch, Dan Waldkirch and Tom Waldkirch attend a Green Bay Packers game in 2017.

The Frozen Tundra Man

Kahlow's preparation for the game is a little different than most.

While others are grabbing for scarves and beanies, the famous Lambeau Field figure known as the "Frozen Tundra Man" is reaching for his hot glue gun to assume his role.

"All the icicles you see is spread from a hot glue gun. I put a pound of hot glue on my face," Kahlow said. "After that gets applied to my face, I put Vaseline onto my skin and pack snow crystals on top of it. It takes an hour to do that to my face."

Other than wearing petroleum jelly, which helps insulate the skin in windy conditions, Kahlow said his "open-face" outfit leaves his face fully exposed to frigid temperatures.

"I can't cover up my face with a scarf," said Kahlow, who stays up to three hours after games to take fan photos. "It hits me hard in the face, but it's all worth it … It's the whole history behind the Frozen Tundra. I'm just glad to be a part of the story."

Jeff Kahlow, of Fon du Lac, dressed as Frozen Tundra Man hangs out in the lot before the Green Bay Packers game against the Miami Dolphins at Lambeau Field in Green Bay, Wis. on Sunday, November 11, 2018.
Jeff Kahlow, of Fon du Lac, dressed as Frozen Tundra Man hangs out in the lot before the Green Bay Packers game against the Miami Dolphins at Lambeau Field in Green Bay, Wis. on Sunday, November 11, 2018.

Alcohol is 'really bad for you' at cold games

Despite popular opinion, drinking alcohol will not keep you cozy.

"There is this myth about alcohol and it keeping you warm, but it actually increases your risk for cold injuries," Dr. Dennis Cardone, chief of the Division of Primary Care Sports Medicine, NYU Langone told USA TODAY Sports.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, drinking alcohol is often associated with cases of hypothermia, a dangerous drop in body temperature from prolonged exposure to extreme cold.

"Everyone says, 'Oh, you got to drink a beer and it helps warm you up.' But it doesn't, it just tricks your body into thinking you're warmer and it's actually making you colder," Lilja said, adding that his warm beverage of choice is hot chocolate, "never alcohol."

He added: "The crazies that go shirtless … takes a whole other level of booze to get to that point."

Contributing: Scooby Axson

Contact Cydney Henderson at chenderson@usatoday.com. Find her on Twitter at @CydHenderson.

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Packers fans brave the freezing cold in NFL playoffs. Here's how.

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