In the coldest corner of Gillette Stadium, fans shivered and smiled

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Dan Lavanway of West Lebanon, N.H., heads to his seat after procuring a hot chocolate.

By Globe Staff 

FOXBOROUGH — Way up in the nosebleed seats of Gillette Stadium, the beer is frozen solid. Fans in Section 340 wrapped the free hand warmers the Patriots gave out around their blue aluminum bottles of Bud Light, trying to thaw them out.

“Ice-cold beer” took on new meaning for Eric Fay of Haverhill, who was bundled up like a Siberian survivor but drinking responsibly during Sunday’s Patriots-Jets game.


“This is what they give you for $9 — a frozen beer? ” said Fay, laughing under a blanket, scarf, and beard.

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The beer froze when it hit the air, forming mini-ice sculptures like some crazy Mt. Washington weather experiment.

“You can’t even drink it,” said Fay. “I had to put a hand warmer on it and it still don’t unfreeze.”

But Fay said going to the game was better than staying home and being a couch potato.

“It’s the last regular-season game of the year and it’s windy, but I’m still enjoying it,’’ he said.

stan grossfeld/globe staff

Paul Emery tries to drink a beer, with little success.


Paul Emery had a hand warmer pasted on his beer, too. He tried to drink it but said it “froze sideways.”

He called out to his friends.

“Hey, I know how to get on the Jumbotron,” he said. “You’ve got to stick your tongue on the railing and the cameras will flow in your direction.”

Despite a game-time temperature of 14 degrees and a windchill of minus-2, few fans complained, as the Patriots clinched home-field advantage for the playoffs with a 26-6 victory over the Jets.

“I wouldn’t want to be anywhere else in the world,” said Tom Musgrove of Shrewsbury, who was sitting in the last row with his brother Dan.

stan grossfeld/globe staff

Eric Fay waits for his beer to defrost.

In the upper deck, noses ran faster than Dion Lewis, and fans had so many layers on that pliability wasn’t a possibility.


The gusts created a wind tunnel in Section 340, which is located in the shade, on the open end of the stadium, opposite the lighthouse.

Westerly winds smacked into the side of Gillette harder than linebacker James Harrison, and delivered a winter’s jolt to freezing fans.

“I think this is the coldest section in the stadium,” said Jerry Haines of Team Ops.

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Vanessa DeMelo of Fall River holds her wrap tightly.

“I’ve probably got five layers on my bottom and five or six on top,” said Josh Hyre of Norton. “It’s all about layers, layers, and layers.”

Musgrove and his brother paid $160 each to a ticket agency for the seats. He realizes he could have used that money to pay for a flight to Florida instead. But he didn’t care.

From his perch, he could see the entire field and all the way across the frozen tundra to the Pru and Hancock buildings in Boston.

“Let’s goooooo!” he screamed down at Brady.

His brother sipped a beer that had become a slushie.

“Look, we’re crazy, but we’re having a blast,” he said.

stan grossfeld/globe staff

Fans bundled up under blankets.

In the upper deck, wind gusts could be 25-30 miles per hour, according to Matthew Belk, a National Weather Service meteorologist

“You’re above the tree line and above most buildings, so the wind is a little bit freer,” said Belk.

The temperature up there would be a degree or two colder than field level, said Belk, “but the windchill would be worse.”

stan grossfeld/globe staff

Fans in the upper deck were exposed to winds, making things chillier.

Fans added or subtracted layers on the frozen concourse as if they were trying on wedding gowns at the old Filene’s Basement.

Shawn Houk of New York stripped down to his long thermal underwear to quickly add insulated snow pants he had borrowed for the game.

He brought his family, which included a teenage Jets fan and a Patriots fan. They all attended the infamous Patriots-Jets “butt fumble” game five years ago on Thanksgiving. The boys fought in the stands that day, but cooler heads prevailed this time.

“We hope they are a little bit more mature now,” said their mother, Jackie.

No one in this family complained about the weather.

“Our oldest son, Tim, had this on his bucket list — not his Christmas list — to see Tom Brady play in his own stadium,” said Jackie, “so we’re making his dream come true.”

In the last row of Section 339, 15-year-old Gabriella Drawnowski of Holyoke sat with her family.

“I promised not to whine,” she said. “I love the seats and I’ve got these really thick fuzzy socks on. Go Tom Brady.”

This was her first game.

“Just don’t think about the cold,” she said. “Just watch the game and you’ll be fine.”

stan grossfeld/globe staff

The Drawnowski family enjoys the game from Section 339.

On the upper-deck concourse, bathrooms became warming stations.

“Let’s just stay in here,” said Connor McLaughlin, 17, of Plymouth, N.H.

He acknowledged that he was just kidding. Sort of.

“It’s pretty cold. but I’m still having a lot of fun,” he said. “It’s the experience of a lifetime. I got into the game for free.”

Halfway up in Section 340, Vanessa DeMelo of Fall River shivered despite layers, blankets, and hand warmers.

“I bought the tickets as a Christmas present for him,” she said. “Yeah, it’s pretty cold. I can feel it, and I’m a little bit sorry I got them.”

Her boyfriend, Aaron Notarangelo, moved closer, and she smiled.

“This is the best Christmas present anybody could ever ask for,” he said.

stan grossfeld/globe staff

Diagonally across the stadium in Section 317, things weren’t much better.

Ayanah Dowdie and Essah Chisholm of Boston snuggled under a blanket, the wind hitting them in the face like a fist.

Dowdie bought the tickets as a Christmas present for her friend. It was her first Patriot game, too.

“I would not be here without him,” she said. “I need body warmth. We have this fleece blanket and it helps, like, a million percent.

“But next Christmas present, I’m thinking maybe Aruba instead.”

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Stan Grossfeld can be reached at