Girls these days love two things: soccer and shopping.
Many got a healthy dose of both at the Women's World Cup 1999 held at Jack Kent Cooke Stadium in Landover on Thursday.
Hoping to skirt the expected traffic snarls and make the night more about girl power than gridlock, minivans and station wagons brimming with girls came hours early. With nothing to do, the allure of Landover Mall took hold of some while others killed time with family-style tailgating.
Oodles of girls in soccer garb went through the mall, eagerly plucking through butterfly hair clips, capri pants, brilliant Hawaiian skirts and Winnie the Pooh socks.
"Oh God, it was like unreal," said Ellen Bransome, manager of Caren Charles clothing store. "A lot of them bought little tops and dresses . . . and wanted to go into the dressing room three and four at a time."
Yvonne Greene, manager at Suncoast Motion Picture Co., had let the Cup games slip her mind until the young fans descended on her.
"They all had on their soccer clothes, and they were being real little girls," Greene said.
Since the Washington Redskins moved to the new Cooke Stadium two football seasons ago, many Landover business owners have complained of unruly traffic and a not-so-great impact on sales. But Bransome and employees of other trendy teen shops in the mall reported unexpected boosts to their sales because of the rush of girls Thursday night.
"We usually just get traffic," one shop manager said, vexed by the depleted number of shoppers during Redskins games and surprised by the bump in business before the soccer event.
For those who opted not to shop but had breezed into the area of the stadium early to beat Capital Beltway tie-ups, many families camped out in the parking lot, painting their faces and playing soccer.
In one tailgate celebration, Courtni and Jordan Brown, 9 and 7, unfurled two turquoise beach towels, braided each other's hair and sprawled out to eat submarine sandwiches with their parents. "I like to keep myself in shape like Mia Hamm," Jordan said of the U.S. player, wishing she had brought a soccer ball like other young people had.
"Our girls have never seen a big stadium before, and we've never been here," said Kami Brown, the girls' mother.
Well before the gates opened, long lines like tendrils snaked in all directions outside the stadium. Because most cars were packed, the traffic was lighter than would have been expected for such a crowd, Prince George's police said. Nearly 55,000 attended.
"It's all moms and dads and kids and minivans," said Ed Burke, commander of special events for Prince George's police, who said most people allowed time to beat the usual rush-hour traffic. "It's as polite as can be . . . not at all like Redskins games."
Not all, though, were so lucky.
"You have never heard, 'Are we there yet?' so much in your life," said Scott DiGiammarino, who left Tysons Corner with his two daughters late and arrived halfway through the game between the United States and Germany.
"They started crying. . . . I almost brought their whole team," said DiGiammarino, who coaches the girls' Pink Power team.
Once the DiGiammarino girls--Amanda, 7, and Emma, 3--entered the stadium and heard the markedly female roar coming from the stands, however, dad was quickly forgiven.
Enveloped in chairs otherwise fit for hefty football fans, the two pulled their knees tight to their chests and gawked at the crowd, saying all of the people looked like "bunches of little dots."
CAPTION: Fans at Jack Kent Cooke Stadium watch the United States play Germany during the Women's World Cup 1999. Since the Washington Redskins moved to their new stadium two football seasons ago, many Landover business owners have complained of unruly traffic and a lack of a boost in sales.