CRANSTON, R.I.—When it comes to cheering on the New England Patriots, look no further than Aram Garabedian.
You’ll find him at the Super Bowl in Glendale, Ariz., on Sunday, same as always, dressed in red with a matching helmet and sneakers. It’s been his wardrobe for 29 of the past 30 Super Bowl games.
So sure his Patriots would prevail, he booked his tickets, flights, and accommodations two weeks ago. They love this guy and national TV crews are often on his tail for some showcasing.
In the midst of it all, he’s seen the Patriots make five trips to the ultimate game, winning three of them. And through it all, he’s rarely missed a regular-season game, home or away. Garabedian has been a season’s ticket holder since 1986 and ventured all over the country.
“Maybe one game in all that time,” he says of the no-shows. “But don’t hold me to it.”
He’s stood in blizzards, a driving rain against the Colts last week, wind, sickness, and in good health. Come Monday, he’s your typical quarterback, reviewing the outcome to any listener.
At Foxboro you’ll find him in Section 133, Row 12, on the visitors’ side, usually with an entourage of regulars.
“I met a guy who’s been to 43 Super Bowls,” Garabedian reveals. “He’s a little ahead of me.”
In these three decades, the only absence came against Minnesota due to a business trip that was mandatory. He was pitching vitamins to a Target chain and it killed him to miss it. The temperature hovered near zero that day, he recalls, so maybe it was a blessing.
The thrills? Look no further than the previous Patriots Super Bowl championships when they prevailed by three points. This one, he predicts, could be another “seat-squirmer.”
He still laughs and cries about that time he purchased four Super Bowl tickets off the internet and they turned out to be counterfeit. Off he went to buy four more, all at the tidy sum of $1,250 each.
“When you get there, it’s like being at home because Patriots’ fans are there,” he says. “When the Pats make it, I’m really in my glory.”
Placekicker Adam Vinatieri remains a close friend, even after he left New England for the Colts. The fact he supported Garabedian’s candidacy for public office was never forgotten.
The 79-year-old has 2 children and 4 grandchildren. He and wife Jane have been married 56 years. A Providence native, he’s lived in Cranston the past 50 years and is proud to be a U.S. Army veteran. Many times, his family joins him at games. Once, his entourage numbered 16 guests, lunch included.
Garabedian is a former Rhode Island State Senator, co-managing partner of a mall in Warwick, and an Armenian activist. He took it upon himself to personally rent 10 busses for April 26. He’s already filled three and is confident of dispatching the other seven for the Centennial observance in Times Square.
“If we can’t get 500 people from Rhode Island, something’s the matter,” he says. “This is a bigger trip than all 29 Super Bowls combined. It’s our heritage speaking, and we must listen.”
His good friend Harry Kushigian concurs. He’s been a lifetime Patriots fan and never saw anyone quite the likes of Garabedian, even when it comes to community service.
“He’s very passionate about our heritage,” agrees Kushigian, “whether it’s been humanitarian aid to Armenia following the 1988 earthquake, getting genocide studies into the Rhode Island school curriculum, or remembering April 24th.”
Garabedian secured the passage of the “Genocide and Human Rights Education Law,” which mandates that students learn about the Armenian Genocide and human rights violations.
No higher tribute came his way than in 2012 when he was inducted into the Rhode Island Heritage Hall of Fame. Among the qualities that were singled out were his drive, determination, humanitarianism, and leadership. The whole package.
He’s also been involved in “Meals on Wheels,” a World War II veterans memorial in Providence, the American Red Cross, Little League, and the Genesis Center.
So who’s Garabedian betting on Sunday as if people didn’t know?
“I’m not a betting man,” he candidly admits. “I’ve never wagered on a game in my life. I’m a true fan of the Patriots, but not a gambler!”