It’s just a typical tailgating Sunday when suddenly a large purple bus that reads “Bawlmer Ravens” tears around the corner with emergency lights on, sirens wailing, music pumping and the infamous caw of the raven echoing across the parking lot. You’ve just encountered a sighting of Baltimore’s ultimate Ravens fans in their pride and joy, the Fan Bus. Traditionally, Fan Man and the Bus Boys take a preemptive victory lap before every game to rally up fans before at last arriving to their tailgate destination in Lot O.
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In 1997, a purple and black seed was planted when an Astro van couldn’t find a home for a good price. By the next season, the van had been boldly spray painted a vibrant purple with Ravens decals. The vehicle was dedicated to the one-and-only “Willie the Rooter,” a renowned Baltimore Colts superfan who passed away in the ‘50s, and was also labeled as “The 12 Man…Fans.” It wasn’t long before Ravens team owners and coaches were signing the exterior of the van, further building the amazing spirit of Fan Man to express his enthusiasm by designing a fearless outfit complete with face paint – a figure that soon stood out at every game.
The Bus Today
In 2001, the “Fan Van” was replaced with a 16-passenger “Fan Bus” and after undergoing extensive renovations, it emerged with new special features creating the ultimate fan experience. Bus highlights include a 3,000-watt stereo system that is often heard pumping out solid rock music or any necessary comments to rile up the crowd, plus a smoke machine, lasers and strobe lights.
Fans can easily recognize the bus from a distance by its illustrative images – four of the Ravens superfans themselves on the back of the bus, an intimidating picture of Ray Lewis crushing his foes by the entrance of the bus and two glaring (and quite daunting) Ravens eyes above the windshield, letting visiting fans know just what they’re up against.
If there’s still a doubt, look for “Bawlmer Ravens” painted in huge gold letters along the side, giving proud recognition to the city’s accent. Inside the bus, and carefully glued for optimum driving safety, there are countless bobble heads collected throughout the years of key players who are always nodding in approval.READ MORE: Maryland Governor Endorses Thiru Vignarajah's Campaign For Baltimore City State's Attorney
More About the Ravens Superfans
Joined together by dedication, loyalty and love of the Ravens, the Bus Boys group is comprised of “Fan Man,” “Raven Rick,” “Maniac,” “Camo Man,” “Poetic Justice” and “Off the Hook.” Each is a true icon of Baltimore’s glowing Purple Pride as they can easily stand out in a crowd all by themselves, but as a group they are a contagious force of fan excellence that inspires the entire NFL.
Fan Man, Maniac and Camo Man have all been selected as VISA Ultimate Fans and are even honored in the NFL Hall of Fame as the ultimate Ravens fan.
These die-hard fans are also members of the Birds of Prey, Ravens Nest No. 1 of Harford County, an organization that supports Baltimore football and the betterment of the community by organizing and leading many local and national charitable events. To join the group, interested fans should attend a monthly meeting held the 2nd Thursday of each month at The Main Street Tower in downtown Bel Air.
Check out Tailgate Fan to keep the party going at tailgatefan.cbslocal.com.MORE NEWS: Baltimore's Ice Cream Parlors Are Celebrating National Ice Cream Month