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Family's Candlestick tradition ends Monday

Catherine Lindquist, left and Jenn Caamano at the tree decorating in 2004.

Published: Sunday, December 22, 2013 at 7:21 p.m.
Last Modified: Monday, December 23, 2013 at 6:53 a.m.

A few hours before the final kickoff at San Francisco's Candlestick Park on Monday evening, Jenn Caamano and her family will be decorating a fir tree they planted nearby 18 years ago.

The Petaluma woman's family of diehard 49ers fans is inviting other members of “The Faithful” to join them in putting ornaments on the tree they planted in the Candlestick Point State Recreation Area in 1995.

It's sentimental and somewhat solemn occasion for the Caamano-Lindquist clan, likely the last time they will adorn the tree and positively their last trip to the venerable stadium by the bay, scheduled for demolition early next year.

“It's sad,” Caamano said. “I grew up with my family watching Niners games.”

The stadium, home turf for the Red and Gold since 1971, holds many joyous memories: conference championship games, heroics by Joe Montana and Jerry Rice and decades of tailgating through the years with friends and family, she said.

The tree is a special part of that history.

Caamano was about 10years old when her father, Bruce Lindquist, gave her a tiny, pre-decorated Christmas tree that sat, primarily, atop her bedroom dresser.

It also accompanied the family on their tailgating parties prior to the Niners games closest to Christmas, until the tree began to outgrow the wine barrel that came to hold it in the family's Petaluma backyard.

In 1995, Caamano's sister, Diann Lindquist, got permission to plant it in the 170-acre state recreation area, a landscaped picnic site between the stadium parking lot and the bay.

The annual Christmas decoratings continued as the tree grew tall and wide. After Bruce Lindquist died of cancer in 2000, the holiday tradition also became a memorial to him.

“It's a pretty special place for us,” Caamano said.

On Monday, she'll be there with her husband, Matt; her sisters, Diann from Greenville, S.C. and Catherine Lindquist of Santa Rosa along with her fiancee's son, Jamie Robbins; and their mother, Frances Lindquist of Hudson, N.C.

Fans are invited to help with the decorations around 2 p.m. today across from Gate 1 of the parking lot.

Then, of course, comes the game against the Atlanta Falcons, a rematch of last year's NFC championship game in Atlanta, which Caamano and some of her family attended.

“The beginning was a little bit scary,” she said, recalling how the Falcons jumped out to a 17-0 lead before the 49ers rallied to win, 28-24, and advance to the Super Bowl.

The Niners will prevail again Monday, “of course,” Caamano said. “I'm not going to let that last game at the Stick be a loss.”

Looking ahead to next fall, when the team relocates to a new $1.2 billion stadium in Santa Clara, 45miles south of San Francisco, Caamano said her clan will have to tackle the extra distance.

“I can't imagine not going to a Niners game every season,” she said.

You can reach Staff Writer Guy Kovner at 521-5457 or guy.kovner@pressdemocrat.com.

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