Rain curtails Family Night fireworks, but fans get to watch Packers practice anyway

Richard Ryman
Green Bay Press-Gazette
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GREEN BAY – Lightning chased fans into the Lambeau Field concourses for about a half hour Saturday, but rain or no rain, they shouted a loud "Go Pack Go!" and swarmed into the stands as soon as they heard the all clear.

Such is Green Bay Packers Family Night at Lambeau Field.

This isn't the first year it rained. Some fans had rain gear, others just sat under the falling water on the hot and humid night and watched the team they love go through the paces of a somewhat normal practice.

The turnout was 34,835, something short of the 50,000 the Packers anticipated based on ticket sales, but that expectation came before the weather turned uncooperative on Saturday — which also forced the team to cancel the typical fireworks show.

Concerns about the COVID-19 pandemic also might have kept numbers down, but fans in the Titletown District before the stadium opened were optimistic.

Dr. Pamela Pardini of Ledgview, an obstetrician-gynecologist, said COVID-19 is a concern, but she and her husband were vaccinated. "I'm encouraging everyone to get the shot," she said.

"We drag our kids to this. They are so excited to be here," Pardini joked. "We've been bringing them since they were little."

This is the 20th Packers Family Night. The event was not held in 2020 because of the COVID-19 pandemic. Fans were not allowed at training camp or during regular-season games last year. Limited numbers of fans were allowed at two playoff games at Lambeau Field in January.

Family Night is a full-blown Packers practice. It allows the team to practice on Lambeau Field with a game-like atmosphere: crowds cheering, gameday music, scoreboards in use and the like.

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Eric and Katie Premo of Pewaukee were watching their two kids do hula-hoops in the Titletown District before the event. Katie hadn't been to a Family Night since she was a kid, and Titletown didn't exist then. But she did remember the fireworks.

She thought her daughter, who is 9, might be interested in watching the players practice. Nodding toward her son, who is 6, she said, "He'll want ice cream."

Ray Porteet of Wauwautosa was with his three sons near the Titletown football field, which was covered with would-be Aaron Rodgerses throwing to pretend Davante Adamses.

"We came just to get out of the house," Porteet said. "Plus, the kids play football, too. They hope to take something (they learn) back."

Ryker Stueber, 6, and his brother Ryston, 8, play catch with their dad before Packers Family Night at Lambeau Field, Saturday, Aug. 7, 2021, in Green Bay, Wis. Samantha Madar/USA TODAY NETWORK-Wisconsin

Josiah Elkins and Morgan Malcore of Howard attended their first Family Night with daughter Willow, 5. 

"She's looking forward to the fireworks and the Titletown experience," Malcore said. 

Willow got to enjoy the Titletown end of the deal, but was no doubt disappointed where fireworks were concerned, since the potential for worsening weather, including more lightning, called off the end-of-night pyrotechnics. 

Malcore said Family Night was the best time to take kids, because it's geared more toward them and less expensive. 

The Packers asked fans to follow CDC guidelines on COVID-19 safety, which includes unvaccinated people wearing masks, but the team did not mandate mask wearing. Masks were in use among some of the crowd, particularly kids.

Brown County's mobile vaccination unit set up in the Lambeau Field parking lot before the practice. 

Kate Premo said they were a little nervous about being among a throng of people, but they were vaccinated and the kids would be masked. She said she'd like to see a vaccine approved for kids, but that wasn't going to stop them from enjoying a chance to bring their son and daughter to Lambeau Field.

"You've got to live your life," Eric Premo said.

Contact Richard Ryman at (920) 431-8342 or rryman@gannett.com. Follow him on Twitter at @RichRymanPG, on Instagram at  @rrymanPG or  on Facebook at www.facebook.com/RichardRymanPG/

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