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Longtime Sioux hockey fan Beth Delano of Northwood, N.D., is a crowd favorite at Ralph Engelstad Arena after her image appeared on the big screen sipping a beer. (Eric Hylden/Grand Forks Herald)

'Beer Grandma' impresses hockey fans at The Ralph

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GRAND FORKS - Beth Delano has become something of a celebrity among the University of North Dakota hockey crowd at Ralph Engelstad Arena.

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Ask anybody from the press box down to the ushers about "Beer Grandma" and you get a smile.

Her launch to fan favorite status started innocently enough when Fighting Sioux Sports Network cameras panning the crowd before a Friday game caught her with a beer in her hand.

The camera zoomed in on Delano as she took a sip. Her image appeared on the giant scoreboard, prompting a rousing round of cheers from UND students who later began chanting "Beer Grandma! Beer Grandma! Beer Grandma!"

Had she not been sipping the beer, the 82-year-old would be hard to pick out from Section 114 - she's less than 5 feet tall.

"The students have been more than nice," Delano said. "I have a beer maybe two or three times a year at the game. I'd had a sandwich and hot dog and my friend gave me a beer. It just happened to be touching my lips. It made the kids feel good to see me drinking."

Delano said she started going to UND hockey games "in the old barn" in 1947. "It makes winter fun for me."

She went with her husband, Bob. She said sometimes the couple would walk home from the games to where they lived on Cherry Street.

Bob earned his medical degree and became a family doctor in Northwood in 1953. The couple have three sons; one still lives in Hatton.

"We came to Northwood for him to practice," Delano said. "We went to hockey games when we could. It was tough because he was often on call."

Beth said Bob passed away from cancer in 1999.

Now, she gets a ride from Northwood with friends for the Friday games and usually gives her Saturday tickets to someone else.

Recently, one of her fellow UND hockey fans put Beer Grandma's image on Facebook, amplifying her fame.

"I've had enough publicity," Delano said, laughing. "But I'm happy to do anything for UND hockey."

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