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Fans take advantage of Fan Day

by Zack Crawford / Detroit Red Wings
Photo by Dan Mannes

DETROIT -- With the Red Wings on the road, Joe Louis Arena was open to fans on Sunday afternoon for the second annual Fan Day.

In partnership with Coca-Cola and Meijer, the Wings opened the doors to The Joe for fans who had claimed free entry tickets at local Meijer player visits held throughout the season.

Featuring an open skate, autograph opportunities with Wings alumni and photo opportunities with the Zamboni and the 2008 Stanley Cup championship banner, Fan Day offered visitors a unique interaction with the Wings legacy, both past and present.

For five hours, fans had access to the main concourse of the arena, where interactive hockey zones, giveaways and promotions lined the concession areas. A constant line of people waiting for autographs kept the featured alumni, including Darren Banks, Brent Fedyk, Dennis Hextall, Eddie Mio, John Ogrodnick and Nick Libett, busy throughout the day.

Photo by Rachel Lupo
The Hockey Hall of Fame was also in attendance with a wide variety of Wings' hockey memorabilia, including trophies, game-used jerseys, gloves and pucks. In addition, four of the league’s premier trophies, the Presidents' Trophy, Frank J Selke Trophy, James Norris Memorial Trophy and Hart Memorial Trophy were on display and accessible for photographs. 

On the lower concourse, fans took photos with the Zamboni while waiting for their turn to join the open skate on ice that was resurfaced by the ice crew multiple times during the event.

Photo by Rachel Lupo
For Bill and Toni Esper, siblings who attended Fan Day with their friend, Pam Irish, the best part of the day was having a chance to tour the Legends Club.

According to the two siblings, what makes a good fan is “knowing the players.” Recounting some of his favorites, including Nicklas Lidstrom, Steve Yzerman, Kirk Maltby, Darren McCarty and Bob Probert, it was clear that Bill knew his Wings players well.

“We had cousins who played hockey when they were young kids,” Bill said when explaining the Esper family’s lifelong devotion to the Wings. “One of my cousins actually played for the Junior Red Wings years ago, so we’re huge hockey fans.”

The group will be back at The Joe later this month when the Wings host Columbus, but Fan Day allowed them to check out the press box, snap some pictures and get a few autographs that they wouldn’t have otherwise been able to on a typical game day.

Photo by Dan Mannes

Around 4,000 people attended Fan Day, many of whom brought young children to skate on the ice and play the hockey-themed games set-up on the main concourse.

Julie and Jason Paquette from Novi, Mich., brought their 18-month-old daughter, Ainsley, to Fan Day after receiving tickets from another family member.

No strangers to Wings events, the family has been building a collection of photographs of their daughter at the MotorCity viewing parties, which they then proceed to get autographed by players, the most recent of which they had signed by Chris Chelios.

“It’s great. It’s really fun,” Julie Paquette said. “It’s a great opportunity for people to come down here when there’s not a game and get a little bit more access to the facility.”

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