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Carrington fans send 'Jimmy' out in person

CARRINGTON -- Residents from the hometown of Minnesota Vikings tight end Jim Kleinsasser plan to send him out in style -- and in person.

Two charter buses from Carrington will carry fans to Minneapolis to watch his last NFL game at 11 a.m. today when the Vikings host the Chicago Bears.

About 125 people from the city of 2,200 have tickets and transportation, courtesy of the Vikings, who contacted Kleinsasser's former high school coach Marty Hochhalter with the idea.

"The Minnesota Vikings sparked this," Hochhalter said. "The Vikings called, asked Jimmy, and Jimmy gave them my name."

Since then, Hochhalter has been fielding calls and helping arrange all the details.

"It's special," Hochhalter said. "It just shows what kind of special individual Jimmy is. It's hard because he's been such an important part of our community and state. Number 40 and the Vikings -- we can all identify with that number."

The 34-year-old Kleinsasser recently announced his retirement after 13 years in the league.

"It's crazy. It feels like just a year or two ago that we were out at his farm when he was drafted," Hochhalter said.

Marvin "Red" Skytland will be on one of the buses. A season-ticket holder for seven years, he said he was excited when Hochhalter called to tell him what the Vikings were doing.

"It's just fantastic that the Vikings would do that for Carrington and Jimmy's fans," Skytland said.

During Kleinsasser's rookie year and every year since then, former high school Principal Al Larson and his wife, Dianne, helped fill a bus of 50 people that went to a Vikings game.

Al Larson has passed away, and this is the first year a bus didn't make the trip - until now.

"A lot of the original 50 people are on this trip," Skytland said.

"The only thing that saddens me is that my good friend Big Al won't be there," he said. "He was a driving force getting people to the game."

Beer is the online editor of The Forum of Fargo-Moorhead, which is owned by Forum Communications Co.