| A Shark fans Winter Classic
The Windy City low down
1/5/09 - By David M
I live in San Jose California and was lucky enough to
be able to travel to Chicago Illinois for the NHL's Winter Classic outdoor
hockey game. What brought me there was me winning the Sharks Winter Classic
Sweepstakes. A contest they had that I entered in and won. I received Southwest
Airline gift cards worth $500. Two free nights at a Chicago hotel & two
tickets to the Winter Classic hockey game. When the Sharks told me that I won
and they asked me if I wanted to go, there was no question whatsoever, the
answer was a big "Yes!".
I arrived into Chicago on Dec. 31st. It was
an absolutely freezing cold 25 degrees in the City that day and the windy
aspect of this town made it feel like -10. I come from Canada but having lived
in California for the past 10 years I clearly forgot some of the basic elements
in how cold this world can get. A quick 4 block stroll through downtown Chicago
left me feeling like my nose was about to fall off. It was a good reminder of
the weather I was going to have at the hockey game tomorrow.
As I said
though, I am from Canada and I did in fact come prepared for the big game. A
visit to the North Face shop in Palo Alto allowed me to stock up really well on
all the different types of clothing I would need for the big game and the 4+
hours I would be spending outside in the cold weather.
I brought my
best friend Dylan from Toronto with me to the game. I knew he would be able to
appreciate the celebration of hockey that we were about to see. We stayed at
the Inter Continental Hotel in downtown Chicago. The same hotel that the
National Hockey League uses for all of its staff. Various league executives
were often seen at the hotel.
The entire production staff that was
making the whole event happen (behind the scenes) had blocked off a slew of
conference rooms which were used as their headquarters for the event. I cant
tell you enough how nice it was to enter a hotel and see banners, posters, even
stenciled window graphics all highlighting the Winter Classic. You felt
surrounded by hockey and that's a great feeling to have.
The night of the 31st began with a lengthy visit to
the hotel lounge on the 1st floor, where we, as well as all the league
executives and various other hockey fans, gathered in front of the Plamsa TVs
to watch the much anticipated World Junior Hockey Championship hockey game
between Team Canada and Team USA. It was a great game that ended with Team
Canada walking away with a 7-4 win. From there we got dressed up and went to a
local Restaurant/Club and rang in the New Year nice and proper. We got to bed
You wake up in the morning and before your eyes even focus
and open up, you got that nice feeling of fantastic anticipation flowing
through you and it all surrounds the sport you love - Hockey. Your about to see
and be a part of something special and you cant help but smile.
grabbed a taxi at the hotel and made our way towards Wrigley Field. We were
five blocks from the stadium when the traffic started backing up and since we
were moving slower than molasses we decided to get out and walk the rest of the
way. Good idea since we got to savor the feeling of walking up to one of
America's most well-known sports stadiums hosting this special hockey day.
We met a bunch of characters as we approached Wrigley. The
neighborhood surrounding the stadium is called Wrigleyville and is made up of
several hundred bars and various entertainment type establishments. The area
around the stadium has no open land, no large parking areas. Surrounding the
stadium are low-rise buildings, not more than 3 stories tall, packed tightly
together, one against another.
Chicago and Detroit fans were out in
full force. This was all still the pre-game action so people were generally
still friendly to one another. The rivalry was taking a back seat to the unique
event everybody knew they would soon be a part of. I got many a stare and many
a friendly comment to my San Jose Sharks jersey & toque that I was
sporting. Some people even decided to pose with me in some pictures and I
obliged. Met a whole bunch of hockey fans who were all just incredibly excited
about the event that was to come.
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