Green Bay Packers fans once again proved their undying love for their team Wednesday, buying up all 3,000 tickets to next month's inaugural Fan Fest in less than three hours.
With tickets going on sale at 9:00 a.m., die-hards began congregating near the box office windows hours in advance as if they were lining up for tickets to a playoff game. Many were prepared to camp out all night, armed with blankets and layers of clothing to help them brave the sub-freezing temperatures.
Two men at the head of the line - Randy Brandt of Mauston and Wayne Pavlat of Algoma - said they both arrived at Lambeau Field at about 1:00 a.m. Wednesday to secure their place in the line.
"We got up here about the same time and I said to him, 'You came from further away, so you go first,'" Pavlat said.
"Some other people starting showing up at about 3:00," said Brandt. "They wouldn't let us in the parking lot until later. There were a lot of people driving around the stadium most of the night."
Another fan said the scene of the rush to get into line was like something out of a TV show.
"When they finally let us in the parking lot, it was kind of like "The Amazing Race". People were on foot racing to get up to the ticket window. It was exciting. Now we're frozen, but..."
Brandt stated that he didn't want to risk not being able to get through with a phone call to place his order.
"3,000 tickets - that's going to go fast," he said. "I didn't trust the phone lines."
The excitement of the chance to meet some of their Green and Gold heroes was what brought the fans to line up, with well over 100 fans lined up awaiting their chance to buy tickets.
"To be able to be close to the players," was the most common response when asking the fans what they were looking forward to most from Fan Fest. "Favre, obviously, and Bart Starr, Paul Hornung, and Ron Wolf too."
Everyone who lined up early outside of the stadium was able to buy tickets before they were sold out. Those fans, along with hundreds more who jammed the Packers' phone lines combined to complete the sellout before noon.
Fan Fest's popularity proved to be tremendous, as Wayne Wichlacz, the Packers' director of information technology explained some callers were unable to get through to the office to place their ticket orders.
"Due to the tremendous call volume that occurred this morning, many customers could not complete their calls to the Packers office," Wichlacz said.
As would be indicated by the brisk sales of the tickets, many fans were able to connect to the Packers Pro Shop, which handled the telephone ticket sales. Kate Hogan, director of retail operations for the team said Packers fans will be coming in for Fan Fest from all over the globe.
"We took orders from almost all 50 states, including Hawaii," said Hogan. "We even had some international orders called in, including a ticket order placed from Rome, Italy.
"Of course, we also had some less long-distance calls with plenty of orders being filled for fans from Wisconsin, Illinois, Michigan, and Indiana."