Never underestimate the power of a tiny Disney princesses teacup to stop Green Bay Packers players in their tracks.
At least not one served knee high and without so much as a drop in it by 2 ½-year-old Aria Rubens.
Video of the De Pere toddler, wearing a Packers cheerleader uniform and sunglasses and sweetly offering an imaginary sip to players on their way back to Lambeau Field after practice, has made Aria a viral sensation.
ABC’s “Good Morning America,” People magazine, ESPN, “CBS Mornings,” Daily Mail and Bleacher Report are among the many news outlets that have shared the adorableness overload that comes with taking a tea party to training camp.
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“Want some tea?” Aria asks, sticking a pastel-colored cup through the fencing as players walk and bike by. She high-fives those who stop to play along and then sends them off with a “Go Pack Go” like she’s been saying it her whole life.
Technically, it's only been half her life.
Her dad, Brock, is the diehard Packers fan who taught her “Go Pack Go” last season when watching the games on TV. He’s also been known to pick her up like a cheerleader in the backyard so she can let one out with the proper accompanying pose.
She was with her mom, Ashley, when she went to her first Packers training camp last week. The tea party was not part of the plan, but Aria had just received the play set that day.
“I wanted to leave the tea set in the car,” Ashley said. “We’re not bringing a teapot to practice.”
The lure of a new toy and the will of a 2-year-old won out. Ashley let Aria bring just a couple of pieces so she could have a tea party with her grandparents, who came along to training camp, while they waited for the players to come by.
Aria quickly learned quietly offering a cup of tea to players in all the excitement of training camp crowds wasn’t going to get the job done. She had to use her “big voice” if the players were going to hear her.
Undeterred by either the size of the players or are all the other young fans hoping to get a football or cap signed, Aria just went about her business of sharing a spot of tea.
“She was not afraid. She just thought, ‘Somebody besides my mom is going to have a tea party with me. This is great,’” Ashley said. “We were actually shocked when the first Packers player stopped. We were like, ‘Oh my gosh, that’s so kind.’ Then a couple of more stopped.”
One asked if she wanted her cup autographed. Nope, she would just be thrilled if he would pretend to drink from it. “Oh, OK, I can do that,” he said.
Another pedaled over after talking to someone with security and said, “I heard there was a tea party over here. Do you have any tea?”
Somebody else rubbed their belly after drinking it. Safety Shawn Davis gave her an "Oh my gosh!," a high-five and a "Boom!"
It's all so cute it puts merely chugging Gatorade from a paper cup to shame.
Some of the same players stopped again when Aria and Ashley returned for a second practice, and by her third time on Wednesday, players were telling Aria they saw her all over the internet.
Ashley isn’t as good as Brock with knowing the players by name, especially the new ones, but she does know one thing.
“They were truly so good to her. From the bottom of our hearts, we were just so thankful of how kind these guys (were). After a long, sweaty practice out in the sun, they were like, ‘You know what? We’ll give time to a 2-year-old.’
“I think that’s what makes it maybe a good story, is because it truly is authentic in the moment. They were enjoying her as much as she was enjoying them,” Ashley said. “In a mama’s heart, it just touched me. I said, ‘Oh gosh, we have such a great team.’ What other football player guys are going to pay attention to a 2-year-old putting a little tea cup out saying, ‘Will you drink my tea?’”
Ashley originally posted the videos to her Facebook page for friends and family, and then someone asked if they could share it with a local TV reporter on Twitter. When Ashley posted another round of videos from their second day at camp, Discover Green Bay asked to take some of the individual videos and put them together in a highlight reel it shared on Instagram, TikTok and Facebook.
That’s when things blew up.
By the next day, the Rubens, who were on vacation at the time, had requests from multiple national outlets asking to share it. So there they were on the beach trying to manage social media and suddenly finding themselves joining the ranks of Twitter and Instagram users.
Various versions of the video have more than 10 million views and counting, Ashley said.
“This is just crazy. It has been a wild journey, and you can quote me on that,” she said.
All the feel-good, worldwide fuss is lost on Aria, who is mostly just excited to have widened her tea-drinking circles. Besides, she's not one of those Packers fans who doesn’t have a life outside the team. She’s a busy girl. She’s into dancing, live music, trips to the park and zoo, swimming and “everything Disney.”
Ashley has been trying to take screen shots of all the websites where the video has appeared so she can do a photo collage one day to show Aria when she’s older. For now, the Rubens feel like their family’s cup runneth over from the heartwarming reaction to the video.
“It’s just crazy how many people just want a good story about people being kind to each other,” Ashley said. “I think that’s what it comes down to, is that we were OK with the story about our daughter ... being spread as long as it’s spreading some kindness and joy to people, because, ultimately, I think that’s what the Packers community is about.”
This article originally appeared on Green Bay Press-Gazette: Packers' 2-year-old fan is viral hit with training camp tea parties