Dave Dostie indulges in a unique tradition whenever the New England Patriots make the Super Bowl.

He goes.

The Skowhegan native and Bradenton, Florida, winter resident packs a bag, hops on a plane and joins his favorite team wherever it’s traveling. He’s been doing it each time since January 1997, and each time, he does it without a ticket in hand. The ticket isn’t the point. The point is being with the team. Wherever the Patriots go, he wants to be.

“I tell people, I’m the biggest Patriots fan in the country,” he said. “I don’t mind saying that.”

He has company. Whether they’ll be joining Dostie in Minnesota or stressing and sweating it out from their living rooms, fervent Patriots fans across the state will be watching intently as New England takes on Philadelphia on Sunday in Super Bowl LII at U.S. Bank Stadium in Minneapolis.

And wherever those fans are, it’s a safe bet that they won’t be changing whatever customs or habits have taken them this far. The Super Bowl is not a time to skimp on routine, be it anything from weekly traditions to the superstitions that — they swear — have helped bring the Patriots five championships and to the verge of a sixth.


“The Super Bowl is a little more intense,” Pittston’s Michele Malinowski said, “because you’ve got to make sure everything’s right.”

For Malinowski, that’s a lot to check off. She has a long list of Patriots clothing and accessories, including socks, pants, jerseys, hats, bracelets and even sneakers. And on Sunday, none of it stays in the closet.

“You have to wear all of that,” she said. “You’ve got to put that on first thing in the morning and you’ve got to wear them all day.”

The habits don’t end there. She makes a trip to the store before every game, makes sure each Patriots item around the house is in the same place, and sits in the same chair for each game. No exceptions. If the Patriots lose, she doesn’t want to be responsible.

“I have to wear the same thing through playoffs, sit in the same spot for playoffs, because if I don’t, I feel like something, if it happens, is going to be bad and it’s going to be on me,” she said, laughing. “Even though I know, rationally, it’s not. You’ve just got to keep doing that stuff.”

And when the Patriots are playing for a championship, there’s an extra step.


“On Super Bowl Sunday, you do have to read Lombardi’s speech about what it takes to be No. 1,” Malinowski said, referring to a framed copy of a speech by legendary coach Vince Lombardi. “I just go in and right before the Super Bowl, I read it, and I’m like, ‘OK. Here we go.’ It’s the last thing you do before you start watching.”

Up the Kennebec in Augusta, Ben Lucas, a former Cony High School quarterback now in his senior year at Wagner College, will be watching with his family — and introducing them to a routine he started while in his freshman year on New York’s Staten Island.

“I have a white No. 12 Tom Brady jersey that I have to wear during every game,” he said. “And leading up to that, during the day I actually have a Tom Brady jersey from Michigan, a blue No. 10 jersey, so I’ll wear that in the pre-game, and then, come game time, turn around and put on the white No. 12 jersey.

“It’s 100 percent a superstition. It wouldn’t feel right if I didn’t have it on.”

Lucas, who added that the jerseys get washed only after losses, is making the trip home to Augusta to watch among Patriots fans, who can be few and far between in New York. Not that he expects to chat much after kickoff.

“It depends on how the game’s going,” he said. “If the game’s going fine, I have no issues talking, hanging out, no problem. But if things aren’t going well, I’m trying to tuck myself away.”


Chris McLaughlin can relate. The former Gardiner and University of Maine player has a big-screen TV in his Bowdoinham basement, and when the Patriots are playing, he’s locked in on the action.

“I throw on a Pats jersey and I go downstairs and I kind of unplug,” he said. “I don’t even look at my phone. I just, as they say, zero-dark-thirty.”

Nothing changes — unless, as was the case two weeks ago in the AFC championship game, the Patriots are in trouble.

“I wasn’t getting a real good feel, so I go upstairs and my wife is like, ‘What are you doing?’ I’m like, ‘No big deal, just changing jerseys,’ ” said McLaughlin, who started the game wearing one for Patriots linebacker James Harrison. “I said, ‘Yeah, I’m going to put the (Vince) Wilfork one back on.’

“So I change wardrobe, and I change locations in the house from where I’m watching it. I go upstairs and go in the living room, and to me that made the difference.”

As far as tonight is concerned, McLaughlin has a dilemma.


“I don’t know if I’m going to start Harrison or if I’m going to stay upstairs with Wilfork,” he said. “What happens then if things go south? Do I go Harrison? Do I go downstairs? I don’t know yet. It might be a game-time decision.”

Belgrade’s Tony Yotides won’t be worrying about locale. The Christy’s Store owner has a room above his garage that is set up like a Patriots shrine, with everything from New England helmets and jerseys to cabinet doorknobs and carpets. He has a booming stereo system to go with the TV and simulate the feel of being at the game, and every week anywhere from a dozen to 20 people come over to watch the team and re-create the Gillette Stadium experience with group high-fives and first down celebrations in unison.

“It’s like you’re at the game when you’re there,” he said.

There are rules, though. Everyone has an assigned seat, and anyone in a different chair — especially if the game is close — will hear about it.

“There’s one guy here in particular that pays attention to that stuff,” Yotides said. “He’ll go, ‘Hey, you’ve got to get back to your seat! We’re losing here!’

“We don’t change anything. … For the Super Bowl, there’s no screwing around with that.”


While they’re all watching, Dostie, the intrepid Super Bowl traveler, will look to be in attendance. He got into Minneapolis on Thursday to enjoy the festivities, and spent Friday and Saturday searching for a reasonably priced ticket from the scalpers on site. Sometimes, as was the case in 1997, 2002, ’04, ’08 and ’12, he finds one and makes it in. Other times, such as in 2005, ’14 and ’16, the prices climb too high and he watches from a nearby Patriots bar.

“I still have a blast because I see a lot of my fellow season ticket holders that are out there,” he said. “I’m hopeful, but if I don’t get in, it’s not the end of the world.”

Belgrade’s Doug Frame, the assistant principal at Waterville Junior High School, already has his ticket. He’s going with two friends, one of whom lives in Minneapolis and secured the tickets. Frame normally watches the games at a friend’s house in Oakland with a boisterous group he said he’s been watching Patriots games with for over 10 years.

When the Super Bowl became a possibility, however, he couldn’t say no.

“It’s kind of a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity,” he said. “I don’t see myself doing this again, so we’re trying to take advantage of everything it has to offer.”

Perhaps some traditions can be changed, after all.

Drew Bonifant — 621-5638

[email protected]

Twitter: @dbonifantMTM

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