Family Night really an all-day affair
Packers fans all have a special story behind their love for the team. At training camp, that story often involves players riding fans' bikes and the "family" feel behind the team.
GREEN BAY - Damarious Randall got a surprise when he ran out of the Lambeau Field tunnel on his first Family Night.
"Honestly, nobody told me there was going to be 70-some-thousand there last year," Randall said. "So when I ran out of the tunnel, I was in complete shock."
Welcome to the Green Bay Packers and Family Night, rookie.
"It's crazy, it's crazy," defensive back Micah Hyde said. "That's Green Bay football in a nutshell. The little things we take for granted, they show up to. They come out on a random Sunday night just to pack the stadium and show the support they have for the team."
This year's Packers rookies will get to experience Randall's surprise Sunday at the team's 16th Family Night, which is really a daylong event. The stadium is sold out, so about 80,000 people will be on hand, said Kandi Goltz, manager of game and fan development for the Packers. The weather forecast calls for clear skies, with a high of 81 degrees and a low of 61.
"It's a good learning experience for younger players and kind of a taste of NFL football," center J.C. Tretter said. "I was coming from a school (Cornell) that had 5,000 to 8,000 people at games. So you come out and get your first taste of 65,000-70,000 people, at a practice ... it gives you a taste of that game-like atmosphere."
Outside the stadium, the Tundra Tailgate Zone and American Family DreamZone will offer family activities and other attractions, such as an Oneida Nation animal exhibit and the Kemp's Mooseum, which includes milk and ice cream memorabilia and activities for kids.The Pick ‘n Save Family Night Picnic runs from noon to 6 p.m., with corn on the cob, brats, hot dogs and the like.
"It's very family friendly and prices are reasonable," Goltz said.
Players appreciate the family atmosphere as much as the fans.
"Now I'm married with two kids, two boys, so it's really great just to have that experience with your family coming out," safety Morgan Burnett said. "I know my son really enjoys it, just to be able to come down on the field and be able to see me, see my teammates. I know that's something that probably will stay with him forever."
Parking at Lambeau Field will be $5, but space is limited. Proceeds will be donated to Wendy's Wonderful Kids, a program of the Dave Thomas Foundation for Adoption. As with all Packers games, street and yard parking will handle most of the need.
Parking lots will open at 11 a.m., as will the Lambeau Field Atrium. Family Night tickets will be required to enter the Atrium or the Pro Shop. Ticket holders can leave and re-enter until 3:30 p.m. Anyone entering after 3:30 p.m. will not be allowed to exit and re-enter.
Unticketed members of the public will have access to the Game Day Store on the west side of Lambeau Field near the Associated Bank Gate from 3:30 to 5 p.m.
Stadium gates will open at 5:30 p.m.
"It's special that we play in a place that we can go have a practice and sell out a stadium," said kicker Mason Crosby, whose family will attend.
"Oh yeah, we'll have the whole crew, and we have a lot of friends and family that come in and enjoy the festivities and the fireworks show and the light show. That in itself is worth the whole night," he said.
Activities in the bowl will include a 2015 highlight film, youth flag football teams and Green Bay Elite Dance Team. At 7:15 p.m., after the Packers warm up and return to the locker room, the All Veteran Parachute Team will jump into Lambeau Field. Practice will begin with player introductions as 7:30 p.m. After practice ends and hour and a half or so later, there will be a 10-minute fireworks and laser show.
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