If you want to see a great recap of all of the off-the-field Wildcat shenanigans in Jacksonville, then look no further than Rodger Sherman’s Friday night recap on SippinOnPurple here. He’s got all the photos, explanations of things that are inexplicable and even the NUSports produced karaoke competition which I’ll spare you from watching. Our man, Todd Martin, Wildcat alum and former tennis star made a cameo at the ‘Cats final full pads practice yesterday as well. The emails and photos are starting to pour in from Wildcat fans already in the area, including one unsuspecting LTP reader who was on the beach in Ponte Vedra with his kids when all of a sudden Morty Schapiro and the ‘Cats showed up for a beach picnic.
I figured with the ‘Cats in full fun mode, it was appropriate to direct your attention to the Northwestern sponsored New Year’s Eve party in Jacksonville. So, we reached out to Matthew Herek, whose title is in the NU Alumni Relations and Development, but his job description seems to go for pages. Bowl fun organizer is one of his unofficial titles. Matt has put together a great party for New Year’s Eve and we thought today was the time to share more about it.
LTP: Matt, thanks for taking the time. Can you give us the lowdown for the New Year’s Eve plans. Where and when should Wildcat fans be congregating?
MH: This year, Northwestern is hosting what we are calling “The Wildcat New Year’s Eve Blitz”. It is being held at the River City Brewing Company (directly across the river from the Hyatt). The event runs from 9pm-1am and admission includes beer and wine during that time. There will be a champagne toast at midnight. The venue also has a great view of the fireworks display that happens as part of Jacksonville’s New Year Celebration.
LTP: What type of crowd do you expect both in size and what type of span of ages are you trying to attract?
MH: We’ve learned that New Year’s Eve is the toughest night for bowl going fans to make plans (a problem we’ll all take in exchange for a January 1st Bowl Berth). We originally planned events like this for young alumni (ed note: ’03-’12), but then discovered that fans of all ages wanted to join in the fun. That’s why this year we expanded the scope of the event a little bit. Right now 200 people are confirmed to attend, and I expect that to grow over the weekend. I should add that while everyone 21+ is welcome to attend, this is not a black tie affair and seating may be somewhat limited in our area of the bar (although the dining room is available if people want a quieter place to eat).
LTP: What can folks do to sign up and lock in their plans?
MH: Head to alumni.northwestern.edu/nyeblitz and fans can sign up online through Monday at noon. Limited registrations MIGHT be available at the door, so if you want to lock it in, do it online.
LTP: As you can see on the link, admission is $40 unless you’re a young alum and then it is $25. What other events are you hoping Wildcat fans turn out in force to attend?
MH: It would be great to see a good turnout of fans at the Gator Bowl Parade at 3pm EST. It winds through downtown Jacksonville and ends at Jacksonville Landing. That leads right into our Northwestern Gator Bowl Pep Rally at 5pm hosted by WGN’s Dave Eanet with remarks from Northwestern leaders and a performance from the band. I really think that any fan that attends the pep rally will walk away feeling like they have been present for something very special.
Finally, as a university family, I know we would all be grateful if fans far and wide would consider a donation to the Wildcat Fund (giving.northwestern.edu). Showing support with a gift of any size would be a great way to give one last “Go U Northwestern” to our senior class and ensure the continued strength of the program.
See you all in Jacksonville,if you have questions feel free to reach to me by email (firstname.lastname@example.org) or stop by our hospitality desk at the Hyatt Riverfront Hotel starting on Sunday.
LTP: Thanks Matt. Keep us posted on attendance for NYE as I hope this post will help to pack what seems like will already be an awesome event!
Teddy Greenstein beat me down to Jacksonville and is capturing video including this calm but entertaining piece by Venric Mark:
Teddy G also had the Iphone camera rolling on a very relaxed Fitz, who was happy with day two of practice in pads and even happier to be away from the storms in Chicago…
And finally…Teddy had an enlightening piece on Kyle Prater, who after getting a ton of ink after transferring from USC to NU, is ecstatic to be in Evanston despite the limited touches this past season. It’s one of those pieces that makes you just say, “man, Fitz has this chemistry thing down.”