KESWICK, Ontario (WIVB) — The Bills Mafia extends far beyond Buffalo. News 4’s Gabrielle Mediak takes us on a road trip to the Bills Helmet Bar, 2.5 hours away in Keswick, Ontario.
For Blake Parnham, raising the Bills Mafia flag is a game day tradition. While he’s a native of Keswick, Ontario, he’s been a Bills fan since birth. “It was in-between the third and fourth Super Bowl and I was wrapped in a Bills blanket,” he said.
Blake’s mom, also a native to the North, passed on her love for the team. And you know how they say there is always a buffalo connection? This story is no exception.
“My mom vacationed in Florida as a little girl and the family next door was the Norton family from Buffalo and the the son of the family Larry Norton from 97 Rock” said Parnham. ” So my mom grew up a Bills fan because of the Nortons.”
But how did this massive 12 x12 foot helmet come to be?
Believe it or not, it served many purposes before becoming the bar it is today.
“A sports store had gone out of business and this used to be their check out counter,” said Parnham. Blake’s dad acquired the helmet back in the 90’s and turned it into a Bills sandbox for his boys.
As they grew up, it held their firewood and after a few beers one night, the brothers got to thinking. “We allowed ourselves to dream. If our favorite basketball team can win a championship, maybe our football team can too,” he said. “The next day we took it down hauled it all the way up here and it hasn’t come down since.” That was back in the Summer of 2019.
Rain, shine or snow, the family has enjoyed games at their helmet bar. “Football became really a family thing for us, the four of us, said Parnham. “Now my girlfriend and my brother’s girlfriend all sit around watch the game. We have some beers and great food that we prepare all week for.”
But they say The Bills Helmet Bar really took off on social media in 2020. “We got out here with our Bills stuff on and I just took a picture of Josh Allen’s stats at our bar and it blew up,” said Parnham. “The bills commented, a whole bunch of fans and from then on we haven’t looked back.”
Their tailgate experience continues to grow. The newest addition is this “Car-b-que,” for cook outs, complete with a grill under the hood.
Although Blake and his family live hours from Buffalo, they’ve never felt closer to the Bills Mafia.
“It’s kind of surreal. You get a picture on Twitter from some guy having a beer on our coasters with our logo,” he said. “Even though they are not here it kind of feels like they are and it kind of feels like we’re there. So its really special.”
With the border now open, he hopes to host more Bills Mafia faithful in person. “We sort of went viral during COVID, so we haven’t had a chance to meet anybody in person.,” said Parnham. “I’m really looking forward to doing that during the later games of the season.”
Gabrielle Mediak is a reporter who has been part of the News 4 team since 2019. See more of her work here.