SANIBEL ISLAND — You can usually count no palm trees and sunny skies on Sanibel Island. And inside the Sanibel Grill, the blender is usually on and so are Pacers games, thanks to the owner, Matt Asen.
"Well, in Indiana, I'm the Pacer Guy," Asen said.
Just like Clark Kent, he's never far away from a quick change. Blowing up his pink flamingo with a hard hat on and Pacer Guy is ready. Just like he was in 1987 when Pacers owner Herb Simon met Asen while vacationing in Florida and invited him to a playoff game in Atlanta.
"So I went with him to a game, and I was a Knicks fan at the time," Asen said. "But I was rooting for the Pacers and he said, 'Man, you're a big fan!' He said, 'Why don't you come to Indiana for the next game. I'll get you great seats.' And I did."
And the rest is history.
"Some of the fans don't get the signs, but the one wo do really appreciate it," Asen said.
You'll find Matt in his usual baseline seats, holding up a variety of signs. Back in Sanibel, photos from all his trips now flood the walls. They include pictures of Indy 500 champs, announcers, politicians. Even President Donald Trump.
"We don't always agree politically, but he's still famous so he's on the wall," Asen said.
How much fun is it?
"I'm still doing it, that's the answer," he said. "And I'm getting older and don't travel as well. But when I go to the games, I get energized by the thousands of full seats. And when grown men say, 'I remember you as a kid' and they have their kids with them, it reminds me how old I am, but it reminds me of how much fun I've had.
"It's been a great life, and I hope to do it a little bit longer."