Green Bay Packers fan John VanLanen holds up a homemade Super Bowl trophy Monday, Feb. 7, 2011, at Lambeau Field in Green Bay, Wis. The Packers defeated the Pittsburgh Steelers 31-25 in Super Bowl XLV. (AP Photo/Mike Roemer)
Updated: February 23, 2011 12:22PM
GREEN BAY, Wis. (AP) — Droves of exhausted but euphoric Green Bay Packer fans gathered at Lambeau Field on Monday to welcome their treasured team home after a rousing Super Bowl victory over the Pittsburgh Steelers.
The team was expected to return to Green Bay from Arlington, Texas, on Monday afternoon. The city planned to allow people to line the streets around Lambeau to cheer the team’s buses as they returned to the stadium. The Packers planned to follow that up with what was shaping up to be a massive rally at Lambeau on Tuesday afternoon.
Ashley Ellis, 17, and Erica Christensen, 18, of Oak Creek, went to bed at midnight after celebrating the Packers’ victory. They were up at 4 a.m. to drive to Green Bay and stake out a spot for the parade. They said the Packers gave them “anxiety attacks” as the Steelers made their second-half comeback, but on Monday all was right with the world in Green Bay. Asked why anyone would get up at 4 a.m. to visit a football stadium, Christensen replied simply.
“Love them,” she said.
Area schools planned to release students after a half-day Monday to allow them to attend the parade. By 11 a.m. throngs of fans milled around the stadium’s atrium. People lined up for tours of the stadium, asked about tickets to Tuesday’s rally and grabbed lunch at Curly’s Pub, a restaurant at the stadium named for the Packers’ founder, Curly Lambeau.
Some fans just stood in the parking lot and screamed to the sky. Others paraded around with a giant cardboard replica of the Lombardi trophy. By 11 a.m. the stadium’s pro shop was so packed with customers snatching up Super Bowl gear team that officials made shoppers stand in line to get in. Fans across the atrium shouted “Go Pack Go!”
Brett Elliot, 50, of Abrams, beat the rush. Dressed in a leather Packers jacket, he emerged from the pro shop with seven Super Bowl champion T-shirts and $140 lighter. He said a couple shirts were for him and the rest were for his co-workers.
He said he was hoarse from watching the game and partying in downtown Green Bay the night before.
“Has it sunk in?” he said. “I don’t know. Maybe after the parade and the celebration.”
Dozens of fans volunteered to help clear ice and snow from the stadium bowl’s bleachers for Tuesday’s rally. From the field level, they looked like ants as they shuffled back and forth, dutifully chipping away at ice dams and dumping snow onto a conveyer belt, which carried it to the field where bulldozers pushed it aside. All for free.
The Packers have traditionally asked volunteers to clear snow from the bleachers during the season, but this time was different.
Adam Shirek, 23, of Milladore, drove two hours Monday to Lambeau for the parade. He said he’s an unemployed college student with nothing better to do.
He saw the line of snow volunteers at the stadium and decided to join them. Decked out in Clay Matthews’ No. 52 jersey, he attacked the ice with a furor.
“Could be a once-in-a-lifetime experience helping shovel snow at Lambeau Field . . . after the Super Bowl,” he said as he worked. “It will be memorable. Hopefully it’ll bring me up on the season ticket waiting list.”