Friday, September 9, 2011

Fan Fest: Thank you, Columbus Blue Jackets!

I didn't get a single autograph.  I didn't sit in on a single Q&A session.  I didn't do any of the hockey skill contests.  I had to leave around 7:30 from an event that ended at 9:00.  That's how life goes when you attend a jam-packed Columbus Blue Jackets Fan Fest with your toddler son.

Regardless, I had a great time.  The Dark Blue Toddler and I "tore up" (term used REAL loosely) the Ice Haus ice for well over an hour during open skating.  The little man hadn't skated since this past winter, and he found his legs remarkably quickly.  There is hope for this little skater yet.

And he met Stinger!  There is something about that ugly green bug, something that the kids just love.  I won't understand it, but I now am witness to it.  The evening was made.

(Side note: As we were skating, the Ice Haus staff fired up the p.a. system.  Wouldn't you know that the first song to boom throughout the rink was "Call to Arms", the song from Skraut's awesome CannonFest video.  That was too cool to be coincidence.)

Once we met up with the rest of the extended DBJ family, we grabbed a bite (Ah - arena prices!), hit the bounce house and did a quick locker room tour.  We exchanged waves with Antoine Vermette and cleared to the side as Coach Arniel passed through.  A quick examination of the goalie nets and the zamboni, and it was time to get DBT home to bed.

That's my story.  Now, let's consider the entire evening as a whole...

Upon entering Nationwide Arena, the ushers and volunteers handed out this flyer:
Click the photo for a full-size view
Click the photo for a full-size view
We in the fan community cherish "access" - the ability to meet the players, to get their autographs, to take photos with them.  We love hearing what they have to say - and addressing the thoughts that we raise - as the team is on the cusp of a new season.  We love that connection.

The Blue Jackets know that, and they delivered it in droves. Every available player - keeping in mind that a handful of youngsters left for the prospects tournament in Traverse City this morning, and James Wisniewski had left for a wedding in Michigan - was on deck for this Fan Fest.  The coaches were there. Team management was there.  And they were talking.  They were signing autographs.  They were taking photos.  They were making connections with fans who wanted just that.  The "#CBJ" Twitter-feed has been exploding all night with photos and exuberant comments from excited fans.  Access was offered, and it was joyously accepted.

There's so much more to the event.  Click on the Schedule of Event graphics to see how all-encompassing Fan Fest was.  Click on the Facebook photo albums (1, 2, 3, 4, 5) to see for yourself what I am finding hard to put into words.  The Blue Jackets rolled out every carpet that they had for the community, and a LOT of fans showed up to partake.  And so many families!

Beyond building goodwill with its community - a noble and necessary purpose by itself - the purpose of the event was to help launch the public single-game phase of ticket sales.  I sincerely hope that the team sold a boatload of tickets as a result of Fan Fest.  The Blue Jackets hit all the right notes tonight and deserve to see the rewards that they need.

A huge, glorious evening.  Thank you, Columbus Blue Jackets.  Now, drop the puck so we can Carry The Flag!

Did any of you readers make it to Fan Fest?  What did you do?  Who did you meet?  What did you think of the event?  Leave your recollections and impressions in the comments...


  1. Made it to FanFest as a "big kid," and had a lot of fun. Met some players, saw the locker room, took a pass from Tyutin... it was good times. The best part, though, was seeing all the families there, and how much fun all the kids were having. Definitely a great community event.

  2. My 6 year old son and I made it out. His picture with Rick Nash and the Rocket Richard Trophy may be the highlight of his year. He wrote about it at school on Monday and has not stopped telling all of his friends. What a way to make a a lifelong fan.


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