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The Fence Family: State College Kids Spread Spirit With Gameday Signs

Ask any Penn Stater, and they’ll tell you the same thing: Cheering on the football team is a requirement of bleeding blue and white.

But for one State College family, a seasonal effort has taken the commitment to Penn State pride to the next level. Enter the Kulka Family Gameday Fence, a homemade symbol that’s spreading spirit and showing gratitude for the Penn State community.

“We’ve been doing this for as long as I can remember,” McKenna Kulka said. 

Courtesy of the Kulka family

Fan-adjacent on the walk to Beaver Stadium, the decorative fence has been enjoyed by Penn Staters for over 14 years, marking each football season with an impressive collection of signs representing a different matchup and resulting outcome by game. After dad of three Todd Kulka started the project, it quickly became a whole family affair, run by the Kulka kids — McKenna, Conner, and Cole. 

“Now, we’ve gotten to the point where we can do it ourselves,” McKenna said. 

Aspiring athletes in a variety of sports, the siblings shared in their dad’s lifelong love for the university, tackling the project this season with impressive independence. As 14-year-old McKenna now organizes the effort, the fence has gained even more eyes via Todd’s Twitter account and has grown along with the family of five for the enjoyment of Penn Staters far and wide. 

Courtesy of the Kulka family

“A lot of people walk by, especially on gamedays, and stop and take pictures,” McKenna said.

Passionate about the project, big sister McKenna explained the process of the honorable tradition, comically older in practice than her 14 years of life thus far. 

“At the beginning of the season, we make sure we have all the signs for each of the teams that we play each year,” McKenna said. “We put them up on the fence. Then, whenever we beat the team, we flip the sign over so it’s upside down.”

Courtesy of the Kulka family

Marking the outcome of each matchup by flipping signs and writing the overall season record on a chalkboard, the Kulka kids keep track of the team’s statistics on their personal scoreboard. Working together and avoiding the inevitable sibling squabble, the family laughs more than they ever fight, especially noteworthy when the coveted task of updating the fence for a win is up for grabs. 

“Sometimes it’s difficult ’cause we do different things, and we all wanna flip it over,” McKenna said. “But, we just make it work and take turns…and sometimes we just agree.”

While all fans recognize the pain of losing, this fence family experiences it a bit differently, as losses last long-term.

“…We have to look at it the regular way,” McKenna said. “We hope that we can flip them all.”

Sticking together to spread spirit, the Kulka family enjoys decorating their fence with Penn State wins, especially when it comes to sharing happiness with the local community. Receiving a request from a Central Michigan alum now living in State College asking to partake in the fun, the family allowed the fan to paint their own sign for the Central Michigan and Penn State matchup.

Courtesy of the Kulka family

Happily included this season, the sign can be found upside down alongside the family’s work on the fence. Growing to include all Big Ten teams as well as former bowl game opponents, the signage represents not only the stats of football but the unmatched heart of the Penn State community. 

“I like when people come up to me and ask if we flip it,” McKenna said. “It’s fun to know that people keep track of it and like us and like that we do it.”

Fostering community through full family efforts, the team has no plans of slowing down the Gameday Fence next year and looks forward to spreading spirit for many years to come. As the project’s now in the hands of the Kulka kids, McKenna shared a final message for the blue and white community. 

“We’d say for them to pay attention,” McKenna said. “And thank them for keeping up with us and going along with us.”

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About the Author

Lizzie Palmieri

Lizzie is a junior majoring in marketing and psychology from Bucks County, Pennsylvania. Ask her about Disney World, Diet Pepsi, or dancing on the Jumbotron at Beaver Stadium. When not causing general trouble, Lizzie enjoys playing golf, performing in the theatre, and being the CEO of reorganizing the fridge. Her favorite thing to do is hang out with her sassy sidekick, 18-year-old Italian Greyhound, Macaroni. Follow her on Twitter @lizziepalmieri if your deepest desire is bestie vibes only.

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