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'Project LEAP!' Offered Active Opportunity During Frigid Day


With the temperatures in northeastern Wisconsin dropping below zero, local children could be stuck indoors, watching television and playing video games.

The Green Bay Packers, however, offered a more active alternative with the third annual 'Project LEAP!' at the Lambeau Field Atrium.

"The weather helped tremendously," Packers President and CEO Bob Harlan said. "With the snow and the schools closed for a couple of days, people are looking for things to do."

Indeed thousands came to participate in 'Project LEAP!' (Lambeau's Exercise and Activity Playground). Events included several football-related inflatables. Children could elude inflatable defenders to dash into the end zone, step through inflatable tires in a simulated drill and jump around in a moonwalk inside of a giant inflatable Packers helmet. Other popular inflatables included slides, tunnels and obstacle courses.

LEAP! also featured a rock climbing wall where children could strap on harnesses and aim for the top. That activity piqued the interest of the five and six-year-old children of Bobbi from Pulaski, Wis.

"When they heard there was rock climbing today, we had to come," Bobbi said. "It's nice for me. It entertained them."

Stiltwalkers sauntering through the Atrium also provided entertainment. They held small basketball hoops, and children could take turns shooting baskets, further emphasizing the goal of the day's community service event.

"(It's) basically a way to get kids out and being fit," Manger of Community Relations Cathy Dworak said. "They can burn off some energy."

The Packers brought in The Jessie White Tumbling Team for the first time, and the gravity-defying group served as a highlight. They performed acrobatics to "Jock Jams" music several times throughout the day. In between shows they taught one-on-one tumbling techniques to children. They wowed the attendants while encouraging activity.

"We wanted a little bit of an entertainment focus," Dworak said, "and also something that would give people who are waiting in a line the opportunity to watch something."

Along with promoting exercise, LEAP! had a distinct Packers feel. The Packers logo was the most requested design at several face painting booths. Many attendants stopped Harlan for autographs and photos.

"I try to stand out here every year and meet people when they come in," Harlan said. "I enjoy being here. It's a great way for me to make contact with fans."

The Packers geared the event toward families by making it free of charge. Rod from Green Bay brought his wife and five and eight-year-old kids, who enjoyed jumping around on the moonwalks.

"It was cold, and there was nothing else to do," Rod said. "And it was free."

'Project LEAP!' is one of four free community events the Packers host each year. The Halloween-themed 'Spooktacular Fun' features interactive and entertaining sing-along music, magic, miming, clowns and jugglers. Each November the Packers serve a Thanksgiving meal to more than 600 people while 'Summer Traditions' is an event set in the year 1908 -- when Curly Lambeau was 10 years old -- and offers activities from the turn of the century.

Those events like LEAP! had fun options for both adults and children.

"It's a great family day," Harlan said. "I know when my kids were growing up I would've loved to bring them to something like this."

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