"Beer Grandma" made a triumphant return to the big screen at UND's Ralph Engelstad Arena tonight during the hockey game against St. Cloud State.
Longtime Sioux hockey fan Beth DeLano of Northwood, N.D., received thunderous applause from fellow fans when she appeared for the first time this season on the scoreboard, smiling and waving, with 8½ minutes left in the first period.
Student fans held signs and wore "We heart Beer Lady" T-shirts with her face on it, seeking her return. She prefers "Beer Lady," though she's better known as "Beer Grandma."
The 85-year-old became a local celebrity two years ago when cameras panning the REA crowd caught her with a beer in hand. That led to a Facebook group, frequent appearances on the scoreboard and even a part in a commercial for the university's continuing education department.
She hasn't been seen at this season's other home games, prompting some fans to wonder why.
A UND official told the Herald earlier this month that President Robert Kelley had asked REA management about a year and a half ago to feature more UND students instead of her. The aim was to help distance UND from its "reputation" as a university with a high rate of student drinking.
REA General Manager Jody Hodgson said last week the REA has made "no conscious effort" to not show DeLano.