Saturday, Thrasher fans across the area gathered in the Gulch, one of the parking lots for Philips Arena. Saturday was not just a random day in which people decided head down and show our support to the ATLANTA Thrashers. It was the day of “Select-A-Seat” where the arena would be open for a limited amount of time and fans could pick the actual seats they want to purchase for their season tickets. Fans thought this would be a (hopefully not) a final opportunity to Tailgate before a Thrashers event.
Shortly after announcing the Tailgate, a story “leaked” that the Evil Spirit Group had made a deal with True North Enterprises that would take the ATLANTA Thrashers to Winnipeg. Within minutes of this announcement “leaking” it was denied by the NHL, The Evil Spirit Group and the True North organization. While, at least at the time, it seemed as though, perhaps this was just, yet again, another attempt for ESG to utilize the media to “prove” how few fans there were in Atlanta, the fans rallied back and, despite Winnipeg belief, more than 5 fans showed up to display our blue in our home town.
While I wasn’t sure what to expect of the event, it took only moments for my heart to leap out of my chest when I saw all of the banners, flags and posters covering the lot. We got there rather early, with an empty hockey net set up, it took my son less than 5 minutes to draw the crowd. As I finished coloring in my poster with the girls, I watched in wonder at all the cameras, news crews, and quite honestly, die hards…
After a while of talking and taking photos, we headed over to the Taco Mac, partners with the Atlanta Thrashers and Philips Arena, to grab a bite and catch a few minutes of the Playoffs. Anyone who has been to a Thrashers game (and Taco Mac) knows that up those stairs and out that door is the “Experience” which, at one point, was quite an alluring area of the venue. I recall just a few months ago standing in line with my babies while Burmy signed his “first ever” drumstick. It belonged to my son. He had grabbed everything of any importance to him to get his Thrasher to sign for him. How appropriate it was the team’s baby signing for my baby.
As we headed up that way to show give the kids a last glimpse out the doors, our server, Mr B, said “Oh, you need to go down the stairs.” I smiled a mother’s smile at him and said, “Nah, we just wanted to give the kids a glimpse.” The other patrons sitting upstairs, obviously out of towners, got excited smiles on their faces, “Can you see the ice from there,” a woman asked. I explained what you could see from there and then our server caught my eye again. “You hear for the Rally, ” he asked. As we started talking about the Tailgate, the Thrashers and the uncertainty, he mentioned how he would have taken the day off if he had known in advance. That he really wanted the opportunity to talk with Thrasher fans and let us know that he was on our side. “I would serve a Thrasher fan over a Hawks fan ANY day, ” he said. As my eyes popped out of my head and I asked if I could use that on my blog, he proceeded to take me downstairs to the main floor. “Pick a server, any server, ” he said. “I can assure you they will tell you the same.” As if I didn’t have enough emotion already running through my soul, I proceeded to listen to server after server tell me the same thing. Some even going as far as saying they would quit their job if the Thrashers leave. The Thrashers fans are their livelihood, we are the ones who pay their bills. Without us, they will be hurting.
The amazement of these words and this knowledge carried me out of Taco Mac riding high. I know what a deep impact this team has made on my family’s hearts, it is just humbling to see what they do to the metro area commerce as well.
As we headed back to the parking lot, even more people had shown up. There were a lot more people playing hockey, grilling and just having a good time. Petitions were being signed to the Major Atlanta Headquartered Companies and people were discussing what may come of our wonderful team.
Suddenly, out of nowhere, there was that familiar sound. The sound of the beating drum. One, two, one-two-three. The crowd immediately erupted into Lets go Thrashers (though some of us quickly changed that to LETS STAY THRASHERS) and there, from the far side of the lot came that familiar head of yellow.
‘THRASH’ my kids screamed as they ran to meet him on his scooter.
The owners vowed they would not be there (duh) that the management and the team would not be there, but here, here came our favorite fellow. The only one who could really give us that spark of hope. They couldn’t keep him away, no matter what they said. Thrash was ours…at least for Saturday.
These are the souls of what you are endangering If you think this town does not have what it takes, you truly are a blind soul.
These are the children of the future. This is what you are hurting. This is where it hits the hardest.