ANN ARBOR, Mich. -- Toronto native Neil McNeil picked up his son at a New Year's Eve party at 2:30 Wednesday morning and immediately hit the road to make the roughly five-hour drive to Michigan Stadium, anxiously awaiting the 2014 Bridgestone NHL Winter Classic to watch their Toronto Maple Leafs face the Detroit Red Wings.
Little did McNeil know when he secured his tickets that the scene would be as picturesque as it was Wednesday morning, between the live music and the fan experience at Spectator Plaza, along with a light snowfall. It truly is a winter wonderland.
McNeil, who dressed appropriately and topped his outfit with a referee's bathrobe, is spending the morning simply absorbing it all. The Spectator Plaza footprint included beer and food vendors, live music and various hockey-related games.
"This is perfect," said McNeil, who works for a couple of hockey rinks in Toronto. "We were prepared for the worst, but walking around today, it's very comfortable. If this is the worst it gets, it's going to be an amazing day. Little bit of flurries, but not enough to shovel the ice too much. It really lends to the ambience. We've heard about games in the past where they were worried about the ice being soft, [but] that won't be the case today."