IRONWOOD TOWNSHIP - With a winter of white outside, all Packer fans could see was green and gold inside when the Green Bay Packer Tailgate Tour rolled into Big Powderhorn Mountain Resort on Wednesday.
According to Bob Tervonen, close to 500 Packer fans purchased tickets for the event that will raise close to $15,000 for Ironwood Township and Ironwood volunteer fire departments. The departments will purchase dress uniforms that Tervonen said have been badly needed for years.
"This was big for both departments," Tervonen said. "The Packers give 100 percent of all proceeds back. Green Bay called my office (Ironwood city offices) in early November and asked if we were interested in the tailgate tour. We're the smallest venue they've gone to. We're the guinea pigs for small towns. We got a lot of support from our sponsors and the community."
Like many fans in attendance, Tervonen said the Green Bay Packer organization reached out and gave something back to their fans when they really didn't have to.
"It was a great event," Tervonen said. "Everyone was thrilled."
Shortly after 6 p.m., the Packers customized motor coach emblazoned with the logo "Green Bay Packers Tailgate Tour" and the phrase "Touching Down In Your Community" cruised into the resort. As current players Jarrett Bush, Mason Crosby and Brad Jones along with Packer greats Lynn Dickey, James Lofton, Paul Coffman and CEO/president Mark Murphy came through the doors, the Packer faithful let out a chant of "Go Pack Go."
The Packers went upstairs and sat at a long table as a large group of Packer fans surrounded the table standing about 10-15 feet from the players. Murphy took the microphone and stood between the players and fans as Sam Fontecchio got things underway. Murphy also talked about each of the former and current players.
Murphy said the U.P. and northern Wisconsin was a place where the Packers have always had great support and that having a chance to come up here and thank their fans was important.
A question and answer session ensued with questions from the fans. The players came off with answers that were interesting, well- thought out and full of humor.
Right after the session, placekicker Mason Crosby was asked what he thought of the weather in the U.P.
"After the season ended in January, I went back to Texas for two months," Crosby said. "When I came back here, it was still January."
When Murphy referred to Coffman as "an old guy," Coffman quickly made a correction and said that meant he was "a seasoned veteran." He said he preferred playing on grass as opposed to artificial turf because it "brought everyone down to my speed."
Murphy was emphatic that Green Bay would retire Brett Favre's number.
Coffman, Dickey and Lofton praised Packer fans and said they loved playing in Green Bay.
"The interest in the team is like nothing other in the NFL," Lofton said, who played for four NFL teams in his career. "Its more like a family and every year the team has a chance to win."
Dickey said he was traded from a team with no tradition to the Packers that had the best tradition in pro football.
The fans got excited when the players concluded the question session by throwing out T-shirts and small footballs to the crowd.
An autograph session for every fan took about one hour and 45 minutes to conclude.
Following their stop at Powderhorn, the Packers will go to Superior, Rice Lake and Merrill.