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Wings host party for season ticket holders

by Craig Peterson / Detroit Red Wings

Justin Abdelkader signs a fan's jersey at the Season Ticket Holder Party. Guests in attendance could meet players, play games and take pictures on the Joe Louis Arena concourse. (Dan Mannes/Detroit Red Wings)

DETROIT — Take pictures with Millsy and DK. Get autographs from Z and Lash. Clock how hard your slap shot is, play corn hole on the concourse and listen to live music.

Red Wings' season ticket holders were treated to an exclusive party at Joe Louis Arena on Wednesday night. Those in attendance got the opportunity to meet with players, skate on the ice, tour the team locker room and were treated to a free meal.

Eric Aiello, 21, and his girlfriend Rebecca Davis, 20, from Clinton Township, Mich., are seasoned veterans when it comes to Wings events, having attended multiple fan days — hosted at JLA annually at the beginning of each season — as well as games like the 2014 Winter Classic at Michigan Stadium. However, the season ticket holder event was a first for both of them.

Aiello said, “We try to come to all these things as much as we can.”

Davis and Aiello’s first time at the ticket holder party gave them a unique opportunity to meet with Wings players. Team members were disbursed amongst 10 different stations throughout the arena concourse where they met with fans, posed for pictures and signed autographs.

“I’m excited to see whose autograph we’re going to get,” Davis said.

The event had provided fans an exclusive opportunity to take pictures with Al the Octopus as well as the Nicklas Lidstrom retired jersey banner. There were games on the concourse including Red Wings-themed corn hole and a radar gun to register a hardest shot booth. With a surplus of activities, there were plenty of items for fans to be excited about.

“Oh my God, yes,” John Kramer said. “For me, it’s on my bucket list to do a lot of these things. I’ve met a few of (the players) before but this is just something that we’re looking forward to.”

Kramer and his wife Karen came from Bay City, Mich., and of the many activities going, John said he was most looking forward to taking a tour of the locker room.

“Getting to meet the team members and possibly touring the locker room,” he said. “We’re avid Red Wings fans so anything involved with this team, we’re going to be involved with it.”

In addition to the tours, fans had the option to rent ice skates or bring their own in order to take to the same ice surface the Wings play on. Derek Figley from Troy, Mich., came prepared to do just that with his son Rylan, 11, two of Rylan’s friends and a duffel bag full of ice skates.

“I know Rylan’s never skated here before,” Derek said. “We just took our picture next to all the Stanley Cups on the wall. They’ve been excited about this for three days.”

Near the end of the night, Detroit area musician Jeff Gutt performaned an acoustic performance outside of section 114. Gutt was a runner-up in the FOX television show The X Factor, where he competed in 2013.

With so many varying activities available, the party was a chance for players and fans to interact in Hockeytown. Fans got a chance to get closer to the team while the players were able to give back to their supportive fans, all celebrating the winged wheel.

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