At 12, Petaluma's Olivia DeGraca already stands five-foot-nine. Every inch came in handy when the basketball/volleyball player, her mom and two pals saw Justin Bieber (either you know all about him or, like me, you had to Google him) last weekend at a sold-out concert at Oakland's Oracle Arena.
Standing in an aisle amid a sea of swooning girls, Olivia's height improved her view of the Canadian singer who, at just 16, has starred on “Saturday Night Live” and on the most-watched YouTube video in history.
So there Olivia was, a few feet from the stage, when Justin removed his New York Yankees cap to reveal his famed early-Paul McCartney head of hair. Thousands of girls went wild as he flung the hat (fitted, size 7 1/4) into the crowd.
And it landed right in Olivia's hands.
“She had an oh-my-God look on her face,” said her mom, Kim DeGraca. Security guards quickly appeared to escort Olivia and the cap from the aisle to her mother and her seat 15 rows back.
“That's when the mob started for us,” Kim said. A swarm of girls wanted to see the cap, touch it, have their photo snapped with it on their heads.
“It got to be too much,” said the mother of the mobbed Kenilworth Junior High seventh grader. As the concert ended, Kim stuck the hat in her purse.
But the pursuit continued. Fans followed Kim and Olivia and Olivia's friends Carmen Gonzalez and Alexandra Garaventa to the car. Some tapped the windows, pleading to see Justin Bieber's cap.
The Petalumans arrived safely home and, in the quiet of her own room, Olivia beheld her prize. She's thinking she'll place it in a wood-and-glass shadowbox, along with photos of herself and Justin.
The box will cost some money, but not much compared to the protective moat the DeGraca's had better dig around the house.