9:10 p.m. (EDT), May 10, 2011
Day one of the 2011 Tailgate Tour is wrapping up as the group heads to the hotel after an exciting tailgate party at the Superior Dome at Northern Michigan University, in Marquette, Mich., to support the Bay Cliff Health Camp.
Approximately 4,000 people turned out for the event, which featured a rousing start as the Tailgate Tour bus pulled directly inside the spacious indoor facility. Fans were greeted by members of the tour exiting the bus with Super Bowl trophies in hand, then watched as the players walked through a line of people to the stage.
After a thrilling rendition of the national anthem by two Bay Cliff Health Camp alums, a question-and-answer session entertained the gathering.
Fans asked questions of all the players and topics ranged from Matt Flynn’s performance against the New England Patriots last season to Gilbert Brown’s favorite moments as a player.
Brown continued to show his love for humor when asked when he is going to return to football.
“Mr. Murphy wouldn’t want me to hurt anyone,” he responded, which was received with much laughter. Brown continued to share his distaste for the color purple as well.
Dean Mottes, of nearby Gwinn, Mich., soaked in the atmosphere of the Packers visiting Marquette, a city that strongly supports the Packers, but has a strong community of Detroit Lions fans, too.
“We do have a lot of Lions fans here,” he admitted. “But we get along just fine. I think they envy us more than anything.
“Tonight was a blast. I appreciate that they came to Marquette. It’s not often that we would have a group like this here.”
For John and Jean Korhonen, Marquette residents whose family have been season-ticket holders since 1959, it was a thrill to have the Packers visit the city and return the favor of support.
“It really is an honor for them to come and pay tribute to those here that support the team,” John said. “We really, really enjoyed the event and seeing the trophies up close was awesome.”
The appreciation for the support of Bay Cliff was a repeated theme amongst the crowd during the evening, and for its executive director, Tim Bennett, the turnout reaffirmed his belief in the community’s desire to support its organizations in need.
“The community really helped us tonight,” he explained. “I think it shows that we’re similar to the Packers in many ways, that we share small-town values.
“It was wonderful that the Packers came here to help us celebrate the championship, and that it worked for our community, too. That’s important…to know that this event was something that we could do and be proud of.”
The support of Bay Cliff will strengthen its year-round, nonprofit therapy and wellness center for children and adults with physical disabilities. Its priority program is a seven-week, summer therapy camp session serving children with orthopedic, speech, hearing, and vision disabilities. The children work toward goals of increased independence and living a fuller life. Bay Cliff also sponsors a week-long recreational camp for adults with physical disabilities, an adaptive paddling workshop, a health and wellness retreat for polio survivors, winter recreation for the children and adults that attend our summer programs, family programs for children with spina bifida, obesity and cerebral palsy, and a professional development workshop for pediatric therapists. More information is available online at www.baycliff.org.
Members of the tour were amazed with the spirit of the evening.
“What a great turnout,” Desmond Bishop said. “It’s great to see this support we have here.”
“I was impressed with how many Packers fans we have here in the U.P.,” Mark Murphy observed.”
Forrest Gregg and Jim Taylor also were enthusiastically greeted by the fans, and enjoyed their own Q-and-A session.
“It was great,” confirmed Gregg. “The young guys warmed them up well for us.”
Posted in Packers.com Blog, Tailgate Tour