For Huskie fans who traveled a great distance to get to South Florida, they weren’t disappointed by the activities that awaited them upon arrival at Sun Life Stadium in Miami Gardens.
For many fans, the Bud Light Fan Zone and Discover Pregame Tailgate provided the perfect opportunity to keep entertained, show off their Huskie spirit and participate in a number of pregame activities.
Laura Falk and her husband, Greg, of Naperville flew to Tampa and drove to Miami to be a part of history today. They first met on spring break while attending Northern Illinois University.
“It’s the first bowl game we’ve ever been to,” said Greg, who earned his bachelor’s degree in 1992 and returned to NIU for his master’s in 1997. “We usually take in one to two home games a year, but since this is the biggest game ever, we decided to come.”
“It’s been amazing … the Huskies fans have definitely been more spirited than the Seminoles fans,” Laura, a 1994 nursing graduate said. “Of course a victory tonight would be the best part.”
The activities in the fan zone were perfect for families. Face painting, zip line rides, rock climbing and a quarterback hustle interactive display were highlights for families, not to mention free Taco Bell tacos and complimentary Orange Bowl swag at various sponsor tents.
Tyler Hall of Sycamore was celebrating his 13th birthday at the game after arriving in South Florida yesterday. He said he most enjoyed “memory lane … all the past victories and memorabilia from past Orange Bowl games,” including life‑sized cutouts of past quarterbacks. He hopes next year there will be one of Jordan Lynch if the Huskies can pull out a win.
Amanda Davis from Bradley, Ill., graduated in May, 2011, and is attending her first NIU bowl game. She attended the Downtown Countdown in Ft. Lauderdale last evening. “I’m excited to come down and support the team,” she said enthusiastically.
“The kids are having fun, and there’s lots of things to do for kids of all ages,” said Jennifer McCoy, who is with her family from DeKalb. Her two children enjoyed getting Orange Bowl caricatures of themselves made.
Jonathan Foust is DeKalb’s resident superfan who drove his signature Huskiemobile vehicle on the day‑long drive to South Florida to attend. “Fanfest is a lot of fun. A lot of great events,” he said. “I had a lot of fun climbing the rock wall. Other than that, the band was a lot of fun.
The NIU Huskie Marching Bnd performed for the fans in attendance, energizing the crowd with its rendition of Gary Glitter’s “Rock N Roll Part I” and concluding with the Huskie Fight Song.
Former Silverette Caryn Fox graduated from NIU in 1986. She met her husband, Jerry, a 1985 graduate and former band member while at NIU. Their last NIU bowl was 30 years ago when the Huskies went to the California Bowl.
“This is big. This is the big stage. They deserve it. They belong here, and I hope they come away with the victory here today,” Jerry said.
“We are having a great time, and this is a great event for our entire family. Our son and daughter are here. Our friends are here. We’ve got quite a crew down here.”
“This whole event is phenomenal,” Caryn added. “Such a huge venue compared to our last bowl game. It’s just a wonderful experience … We’ve run into people we haven’t talked to in 15 years, and we’ve seen them here. Everything has been done very, very nicely.”