SPRING HILL — Janel Carbajo of Spring Hill is one of six finalists who could be on her way to Canton, Ohio.
Carbajo was nominated for the Ford Hall of Fans. It is the second year for the hall.
She was nominated by Kansas City Chiefs Hall of Famer Will Shields.
“Without the fans professional football wouldn’t exist,” Shields said. “That is why the Ford Hall of Fans was created. Now, in year two, its mission is to recognize pro football’s biggest fans by honoring them with their rightful place in the Pro Football Hall of Fame.”
Carbajo, the “puppet lady,” was nominated to join the Ford Hall of Fans this season.
“I had no idea that Will Shields was coming to my house,” Carbajo said. “I knew I was being interviewed as a possible candidate, but was totally shocked and surprised to open my door and see Will Shields there.
“It was unbelievable,” she said. “He gave me two jerseys and autographed them for me inside my house. It was a lot of fun playing catch with him in my yard.”
If Janel is chosen for the Ford Hall of Fans, she will be going to Super Bowl LIV and be inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in Canton, Ohio.
“It was very exciting to know that somebody from the NFL had recognized me to represent the Chiefs,” she said. “I feel very special and really want to win the contest to not only go to Super Bowl LIV but to be able to receive the top vote to get to go to Canton, Ohio, in July to be inducted into the Ford Hall of Fans. What I love most about the Chiefs is how the team brings the city together on any given Sunday to create camaraderie and competitive spirit.”
Fans can vote for Janel Carbajo, the “Puppet Lady,” by going to fordhalloffans.com by Jan. 27.
She has been going to Kansas City Chiefs games since her first date at Arrowhead with her boyfriend Tom. It has been a standing date for the two since they got married.
Thirty years later it has become a family affair for Janel and Tom, joined by their children Kelsey, Macy and Kaden.
Kansas City Chiefs fans might not know her by name, but they always recognized the “Puppet Lady.” She has the puppets out fighting on her way to and from the game and, of course, the Chiefs puppet always wins.
“When people see me with the puppets on the way to the stadium they always smile back at me and say, ‘Hey we see you on TV all of the time,’” she said. “They want to take their picture with me and it kind of makes me feel like a celebrity.”
There is no better place to spend a Sunday afternoon, Sunday evening, Monday night, or even Thursday evening than at Arrowhead rooting for the Chiefs and knocking the opponents out for the count, Carbajo said.
“I have always considered going to the Chiefs game as my standing date with my husband,” she said. “Once our children came along, we acquired more tickets for them to attend with us and it’s been a family affair ever since.”
The “Puppet Lady” started years ago after getting a unique White Elephant.
“We had a White Elephant Christmas party with Tom’s wrestling team and I ended up with a Sylvester Stallone puppet,” she said. “We took it to the game with us basically as a toy to help keep our oldest daughter occupied while at the game.
“We had a Chiefs mini helmet that Tom put on it so it was his idea to get another puppet and the opposing helmet and that is how it all began 28 years ago,” she said.
Life as a Kansas City Chiefs fan is like being part of a big extended family, she said.
“The tailgate experience at Arrowhead, it is all just like one big family,” she said. “Being a Chiefs fan for 30 years is amazing. Being recognized as the ‘Puppet Lady’ is so much fun.
“I love my Chiefs, I love my city,” she said. “Will Shields was on my porch. The Hall of Famer Will Shields.”
Carbajo was a teacher for many years, making an impact in the classroom.