Ben Frey must have driven in circles for a solid 20 minutes before finally pulling into a parking space.
Even two hours before the start of the fourth edition of the Lightning’s “Ice Hot” Radio Series, Frey had no choice but to find solace in leaving his car next door at Starbucks, rather than the McDonald’s on Rancho Del Rio Drive in New Port Richey where Lightning forward Martin St. Louis would soon arrive.
“It took a while for me to get in there, but it was well worth it,” Frey said. “I felt pretty relieved finally once I did find a spot, but then I walked in the door and saw the massive amount of people and thought ‘Oh God, not again.’”
Frey was just one individual standing among nearly 500 Lightning fans who packed inside the restaurant to hear St. Louis answer fans’ questions and talk about his personal life at the Lightning’s “Ice Hot” Radio Show, which took place in front of the series’ largest crowd to date.
The voice of Lightning radio Dave Mishkin was on the call and broadcasted the show live over the airwaves on 620 WDAE from 6-8:30 p.m., while taking fans phone calls regarding subjects that varied from St. Louis’ first career hat trick to his favorite subject in school, as well as his number one vacation spot.
St. Louis, revered for his dedicated work ethic on the ice, put it on display off of it as well, staying past the designated conclusion of the show to sign autographs for each and every fan remaining in attendance.
“He’s a pretty big player, so I knew I would have to wait a long time for an autograph,” Lightning fan Nate Schmidt said. “But seeing him stay until nine o’clock to make sure everyone got something signed just reinforced the fact that he’s a great guy. For me, that was more special than the hat he signed.”
Thunderbug, the Lightning Girls and the Lightning Mobile Marketing Truck also offered fans the chance to win free tickets to upcoming games, in addition to team merchandise and other complimentary giveaways.
They weren’t the only ones, however, as St. Louis himself scored a Big Mac following the show.
“The show was great and it was amazing to see how many people came all that way from other parts of the Bay Area, from St. Pete and Clearwater to New Port Richey, just to see Marty,” Marketing Partnerships Manager Kim Wicks said. “The fans had a great time and really appreciated Marty and the organization coming out to hold an event for them.”