Kimmie Meissner, the Harford County figure skater, used to stop by Kappus' Subway shop in Churchville every afternoon and started adding carrots to her daily turkey sub about the time she landed her famous triple axel. Now she's in Turin, Italy, and today she will perform her short program.
For Kappus and many others in Harford, the long wait is over. They are going about preparations to watch their 16-year-old neighbor take her shot on one of the biggest stages in sports.
Meissner will be skating shortly after 1 p.m. Bel Air time, and many of her fans in the county are hoping they won't know how she fared until they watch the delayed broadcast tonight.
"Everyone's calendar is marked," said Terence O. Hanley, mayor of Bel Air.
Meissner, who attends Fallston High School and practices for four hours a day in Delaware, seemed to be on everyone's mind.
The school board will meet tonight in a long-scheduled session to discuss a contentious redistricting plan, and County Executive David R. Craig will give his first State of the County address to the County Council. But the attention in Bel Air - and around the county - is on the skater in Turin.
Fran Geraghty, a family friend of the Meissners and a teacher at Forest Lakes Elementary, said she will have a few families over to her house tonight for a potluck dinner, an event kept purposely low-key so that they can concentrate on the skating.
She remembers Meissner cutting out pictures of Michelle Kwan for a report in elementary school.
"I get cold chills and tears in my eyes when I watch her go across that ice," Geraghty said. "Her dream, her desire, her talent have all meshed together. That's the blessing of it all."
Phil McCracken graduated from Fallston High, as did his sister and his brother Joel, who, with Phil, co-owns C.R. Wings in Bel Air.
So it made sense that the restaurant, wildly popular with county high school students, would host a viewing party.
The restaurant has five big-screen TVs - two plasma and three LCD flat-panels - plenty of viewing capacity to satiate the appetites of the expected crowd of teenage fans.
"I expect it to be very upbeat and jovial," Phil McCracken said. "The kids at Fallston High School are just so thrilled about her being over there. ... We are really just expecting a great evening for Kimmie."
McCracken said the restaurant will donate profits from today and Thursday, when Meissner will compete in a second phase of the event, to Fallston's PTSA, the Cougars booster club and to Meissner's family to help defray the cost of their trip to Turin.
At Buontempo Brothers, an Italian restaurant in Bel Air that Meissner frequents with her family, manager Dave Anderson said he expects customers to be intent on the three wall-mounted televisions.
"She's a customer of ours," Anderson said. "She's been coming in for years."
On Jan. 28, the restaurant held a fundraiser to help pay for the family's travel expenses. Meissner stopped by, once in the afternoon and later in the evening, to sign autographs and pose for pictures, Anderson said.