TURLOCK -- It's hard to explain the impact Colin Kaepernick's rocket to stardom has had on his hometown of Turlock.
Sure, there are the hot dogs, the cupcakes, the proclamations and the T-shirts that have been featured in The Bee and media throughout the country.
But it's more than that, as just about anyone who lives in this town of nearly 70,000 can tell you.
In the past 11 weeks, since Kaepernick became the quarterback of the San Francisco 49ers, the sentiment in Turlock steadily has grown for its favorite son until it hit a fever pitch Sunday.
I walked into Village Fresh Market that morning and saw cakes decorated with Kaepernick's name and number, 7. And from tortilla chips to "Kapcorn" kettle popcorn, the place, like the city, was awash in red and gold.
Friday, understanding school administrators wisely waived the usual penalty for wearing sports team gear, and students and staff alike at Turlock and Pitman high schools traded in their respective blue and gold and green and silver for the red and gold now worn by the Pitman High 2006 grad.
A tailgate party Saturday at Pitman put together in 12 days by the new Turlock Education Foundation drew an enthusiastic crowd, many of whom signed a massive card for Kaepernick or posed with a life-size cutout.
That's all pretty impressive. But what surprised me more were the smaller things you could see and still can throughout town: There are posters in grocery stores and barber shops. An older couple out walking a dog before Sunday's game sported understated but still clear red and gold shirts. A woman walked into my neighbor's house with homemade 49er cake pops.
Many of us are happy to admit we jumped on the bandwagon in November, when suddenly we had a very local reason to cheer for the San Francisco team. Others, like my neighbor, have been 49ers fans for decades and exulted in the team's first Super Bowl appearance in 18 years.
And sure, they didn't win the big one. Kaepernick had a pretty dismal first half, as did the defense. But he led the team back in the second half, only to end up five yards short.
I would say he did something just about as impressive as winning a Super Bowl.
I have lived in Turlock for nearly 10 years and spent three of those years covering the city and its environs for The Bee. I have seen residents split over supercenters, growth and homeless issues. Never have I seen, anywhere, the magic that overtook this city in the past couple of months.
Though I am sure there are people who don't care about football and those who root for various other teams it appeared that just about everyone banded together in their enthusiasm for Kaepernick and his team.
None of our major problems joblessness, crime, educational challenges have been solved. But for these weeks, it seemed like there's been more smiling, more conversations, more fun. It's almost like one of those Hallmark movies in which one unlikely person unites a community. Except it's true.
And I'm so glad I was here to see it.
Breaking News Editor Patty Guerra can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or (209) 578-2343. Follow her on Twitter, @pattyguerra.