TURLOCK — This city Kap-partied its heart out Saturday, descending on the alma mater of the 49ers' young quarterback to celebrate dreams coming true.
Pitman High, where Colin Kaepernick held a 4.3 grade-point average, shrugged off the school colors of green and silver and draped its entry courtyard in 49ers red and gold for the day. Fans packed the student parking lot where dignitaries took the stage and a DJ pumped out upbeat tunes.
Pitman staffer and former 49er cheerleader Jamie Nascimento stood beside a table laden with dishes of hot links and nibbles, decorated with a gold pom-pom the real one. "This brings me back," she said, looking around the sea of red and gold.
During her time on the squad, she cheered the team through a winning playoff game, an ecstatic day. But a Super Bowl win would be even better. "It was such a great feeling, and I want that for Colin and the team, to feel that excitement," she said.
Excitement and community pride shined through the Turlock Believes event, the Turlock Education Foundation's first major production. "Twelve days, from conception to tailgate," President Barney Gordon said, looking with near disbelief at the red-shirted crowd arriving at the start. He was hoping the food vendors would have enough sales.
He needn't have worried. The kettle corn booth selling the treat dusted with red and gold sold out halfway through. An estimated 1,500 people attended the midday event, shattering all expectations, Gordon said that evening.
"What's great is that everything was donated," he said, estimating the foundation used less than $500 to stage the celebration and decorate the "Kap corner."
That included buying a 4-foot-by-8-foot "Turlock Believes in Kaepernick" banner that by noon was densely covered with scrawls and good wishes that will be winging its way to Turlock's favorite son, win or lose, after the weekend. Life-size photo cutouts of the man of the hour posed tirelessly with fans of all ages.
A passing contest for kids offered footballs as prizes. The Village Baking Co. donated and raffled off a cake in the shape of a well-muscled arm with the biblical tattoo, Psalms 18:39, and a 49er red sleeve.
There was no estimate of dollars earned Saturday night, but Gordon said donations, T-shirt sales and a 15 percent charge to vendors would net a profit. "That's a significant amount we can turn right around for teacher grants, going directly into the classrooms," he said.
Turlock Unified School District Superintendent Sonny Da Marto said while the foundation hoped to at least break even, "we didn't do it for the money." Raising the foundation's profile was the goal.
And, he added, it showed pride in a student doing well. Da Marto recalled the young Kaepernick was a role model for teamwork, respect and hard work. Pitman had just opened when the 6-foot-4 athlete made his mark in football, basketball and baseball, graduating in 2006.
"I'm here to support Kap," said Melody Guerino, whose daughter was in Kaepernick's class. "He's a great guy, great family," she said.
Forty-Niner faithful Pat Weisel of Turlock said she's known the Kaepernicks for years. "Colin's a good guy, smart, a hard worker," she said, praising him for bringing her team back "after 18 years in the wilderness."
"Colin's the start of a new era for the 49ers," husband Ken Weisel said confidently.
Ron and Donna Borges of Oakdale, San Francisco season ticket holders for 31 years, said they came to celebrate Kap's day. Joe Montana and Steve Young move over, Donna Borges said, she has a new favorite quarterback.
Bee staff writer Nan Austin can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or (209) 578-2339.
SUPER BOWL BASH
Turlock Education Foundation event organizer Barney Gordon said the celebration continues today with a town Super Bowl party. Doors open at noon at Larsa Banquet Hall, 2107 E. Monte Vista Ave., Denair, where three 14-foot screens will televise the game. Food is available. Entry is free.