First StarNival proves to be a success
January 11, 2004
By J. Douglas Foster
|Jason Arnott shoots hoops with a young fan|
And if future "StarNivals" go as well as the inaugural one did, it's sure to become one of the "can't miss" events of every hockey season.
In replacing the "Skate with the Stars" event, this year the organization wanted to create something with more diversity and options for fans, to give them chances to spend time with their hockey heroes in different ways.
By all accounts, the estimated 1,200 fans in attendance at Baylor Health Care System StarNival were certainly pleased with the new creation -- which, in turn, pleases both the Stars' players and front office.
"I think overall this was a great experience," Stars goaltender Marty Turco said. "It was well organized, and speaking for the great fans we have I think they had a great day -- which is good because they deserve it."
The idea of "StarNival" was to give the Stars fans many different ways to enjoy interaction with the Stars players, while also giving them the opportunity to enjoy games, photos, skating, food sampling and an auction for Stars merchandise and memorabilia.
The fun and games included a dunk tank, in which fans could throw a ball and dunk selected players and alumni. There was also a can slam (knocking cans off a table), a fishing game for young fans, a "Plinko" game, a prize wheel for an autographed puck, a basketball challenge, a ring toss and a bean bag toss -- just to name a few.
Of course, there was also ice-skating on the Stars' practice rink at the Dr Pepper StarCenter in Frisco, as well as locker room tours and displays by the Fort Worth Zoo and Feral Friends.
All proceeds from the day benefit the Dallas Stars Foundation, which uses the money for charitable contributions.
Stars wing Blake Sloan was one of the lucky players to be put into the dunking booth, giving fans a chance to knock him into a pool of water by hitting a target with a baseball.
So how many times did he go down?
"I think about 170," Sloan said. "I think a stiff breeze would have blown that thing down."
Despite the soaking, Sloan said he felt the day went well for all involved.
"This was a lot more interactive than (Skate with the Stars)," Sloan said. "I think it was a little bit more fun for everyone."
Stars fans Todd and Angie Blankenship of Garland would agree.
They said they certainly enjoyed the autograph tables, where they were able to interact with their favorite players, but also valued the chance to see players with their families, enjoying the fun and games with their children as well.
"I saw Bill Guerin walking around here with his family," Todd said. "That just really shows these guys are real people. Their personalities really came out and you can tell they really care about their fans."
That they do. That's why the organization came up with the carnival-style event, and that's why it's sure to continue in the future.
"All the feedback we've had is that people loved the change," said Stars Community Relations Director Julie Berkhouse. "I think they loved the interaction with the players and that there was more variety."