People wait in line at the DMV on Wednesday afternoon. (photo by Brandon Wise)

MID-CITY — Purple and gold streamers dangle from the ceiling. Posters, beach towels and newspaper clippings envelop the cubicle walls. Employees don the garb they got from the previous night’s game. Welcome to the Santa Monica Department of Motor Vehicles, the self-proclaimed official DMV of the Lakers.

Every year for the NBA playoffs, Lakers paraphernalia adorns the interior of the DMV at the corner of Cloverfield Boulevard and Colorado Avenue. This year’s Lakers final match-up against the Boston Celtics is no different.

The woman behind the purple and gold make-over is office manager Chris Harden, a lifelong Lakers fan. Besides wanting to support her favorite basketball team, Harden said she decorates the building to help build employee morale and entertain the customers.

With state budget cuts and furloughs, “morale is low, but you couldn’t tell because the Lakers are in the playoffs,” she said.

Victor Lepez, the front door security guard, helps Harden decorate the office every year. He said he agreed that it is a good employee morale booster.

“I think 99 percent of the employees are Lakers lovers. They like it because it’s something different. I mean, we’re the DMV, always the same color, always the same style. But this is something different,” Lepez said.

Customers, though, said they are less impressed with festive atmosphere.

“Nothing could boost my energy coming to the DMV unless they serve piña coladas or something,” said Trish Walker, who was waiting at the DMV on Monday afternoon.

Though last year Harden could not decorate during the Lakers’ championship winning playoff series because the office was closed for renovations, she resurrected her tradition this year. Some of the Lakers themselves have seen and appreciated the support, she said.

She has met center Pau Gasol, guard Derek Fisher, forward Lamar Odom and guard Jordan Farmar. Her dream is to meet guard Kobe Bryant, who she has honored by naming her dog after him.

“I would just die,” she said. “The way customers stand in line for about two hours, I would stand in line for about two hours to meet Kobe and get something signed by him.”

Harden has accumulated her collection of decorations that now ornament the DMV through her years of fandom and attending games. For example, after a win, Harden will stay to collect the confetti from the floor.

Despite Sunday night’s 103-94 loss to the Celtics, Harden has not lost her spirit. She and her fellow DMV employees went to Sunday’s game and wore their Lakers shirts to work Monday to display their continuing support. Harden predicts the Lakers will take the series in six or seven games. The series is tied at one game each. The Lakers and Celitics continue tonight in Boston.

“I think it’s going to be a dog fight. Each game is going to have its own personality,” Harden said. “You got to support your crew, and I think they’re going to do it.”

And if the Lakers do win the series, Harden has plans for more office celebrations.

“We’ll definitely have a Lakers party, a Lakers cake, gold and purple balloons in the lobby and in the office,” she said. “Definitely.”

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