So, how did you spend New Year’s Day?
On a day which 35 years from now will have about 300,000 people claiming they were in attendance, I am lucky enough to say I was one of the 38,123 people who were at Fenway Park on New Year’s Day 2010 for the NHL Winter Classic between the Boston Bruins and the Philadelphia Flyers.
All too often, events are built up and made to be something they are not. How many times do you leave a movie that was expected to be great and walk out with a shrug of the shoulders and a whimpered “Meh?” This, fortunately for the Bruins, the NHL, the Red Sox, and most importantly me, was not such an instance with this event.
Everything from the snow-filled practices on Thursday to the visual of watching Bobby Orr come out in a Bruins sweater to serve as honorary captain all the way to the end of the game with youth players revealing the players chosen to represent Team USA at the Olympics (including the last player announced – Tim Thomas) was done with class and the style natural to an event as epic as this was.
I utilized my time before, during, and after the game to take as many pictures as I could, which can be found on the 4SB Facebook Page . It will take me a while to wrap my head around what I was lucky enough to see yesterday, so I am glad that I have these photos to help me look back at what an event it was. As I look back now, having just returned from home, there are a few things that stand out from yesterday,
The Anticipation of the Day . I joked to my brother and Ms. Five Minute Major prior to leaving from Weymouth, that to me, the night before was like Christmas Eve when you are little. I stayed up until after midnight and set my alarm for very early.That alarm was useless because I was up around 5 a.m., waiting for 7:30 when I could finally wake everyone up so we could get started.
There are few opportunities once you grow up to feel such pure, unadulterated excitement. This was one of those times. As we drove in towards Boston, the feeling started building. As we turned down Beacon St. and saw the tops of the inflatable hockey players at the Spectator Plaza, it reached a crescendo.
We turned and parked at my super-secret hideaway near B.U.’s campus (that summer makeup philosophy class paid off in more than one way) and put on all our gear before heading over to take a walk through the Fan Fest. A quick check of the clock on my cell phone showed 9:48. Somehow, I wasn’t sure if four hours until faceoff was enough time to soak in all the happenings.
Fan Fest Frenzy . In the parking lot across from Yawkey Way, the NHL lined up an interactive Fan Fest at Spectator Plaza. There was a band tuning up to play and all types of games, food, beverage, and giveaways.
The longest line was at the “Create Your Own Hockey Card” tent where people could grab a stick and gloves and put themselves on the ice for their own trading card. That line was longer than Ned Devine’s on a Friday night in the summer, so we took our free cards and instead wondered around to the other tents.
Areas like this are commonplace at the Super Bowl and NASCAR events, but in the lot across from Copperfield’s? Seemed surreal. After an hour, the three of us had a pretty sizeable haul from the Fan Fest. Stress pucks, beads, buttons, hand warmers, stickers, trading cards, and binoculars were stuffed in the bag with the program and game puck we actually bought.
But, what to do with all that? How ‘bout a beer?
Pre - Gaming. Literally. With a few hours to kill before game time, we headed over to An Tua Nua for some food and a few drinks. When we got in, there was one other Bruins fan and about 20 Flyers fans. That ratio seemed to stay the same until around 11:45 or so when the people coming to the NHL’s official TweetUp came in.
Being the good blogger that I am, I had preregistered so we went on in and immediately wished we hadn’t already downed burgers, wings, and sweet potato fries because there were trays of appetizers lined up for the group of about 45 or so bloggers who registered.
Nevertheless, we had a couple more Bud Lights (the official sponsor of the TweetUp and of Five Minute Major) and watched the pregame on NESN.
I was lucky enough to meet Michael DiLorenzo, the director of social media for the NHL, who organized the event and thanked him for hosting. It was a nice, warm way to get ready for what was about to happen.
Field of (My)Dreams . Getting through security was pretty easy as they had multiple lines set up and plenty of people helping to get people onto Yawkey Way. The tough part was that we got too excited and ended up going in the wrong gate.
Our seats were in the bleachers, but we found ourselves on the ramp up to the grandstand behind first base. I began to panic a bit that we would miss intros or something, but we had plenty of time. The only real problem (one which I helped sustain) was that every person who came out of a tunnel and had their first glimpse of how the stadium looked was dumbstruck and couldn’t move.
For the Flyers fans there (all 8-9,000 of them by my guess) they were equal parts awestruck and lost. But for us Bostonians, who have been to Fenway countless times, it was at the same time strange but familiar, a little bit magic and a little bit dream. I genuinely didn’t count on being so mesmerized by a hockey rink (something I have skated on at least 10,000 times) being at Fenway Park (a place I have been about 300 times.)
Yet, there it was. A heavenly marriage of my childhood passions. Cows and pigs will fly home before the Sox play at the Garden. But on that day, in the most magical of baseball parks, I got to see the team I love more than any other play hockey.
Pomp and Circumstance . Once we navigated past the blockade of people taking pictures, we made it out to the bleachers for the countdown to the game. We saw a parade of policemen and firefighters and military come out from center field, joined by young children who carried flags of every NHL team. Then, nothing else mattered as every eye turned to... READ MORE